As I shove my hands into the remnants of last night’s revelry, dripping what can only be described as garbage juice, I mouth what may not be necessarily words, but sounds that still express the emotional quotient of my current well-being.
“Ewww! Ugh!” and my Mad-magazine-approved favourite, “Blecch!”
This is the last day of the Saskatoon Fringe Festival, an annual human zoo of theatrical proportions. And, for the past two weeks straight, I’ve been the guy assigned to clean out the cage.
“Site manager” sounds impressive to the ear, no doubt. And a lot of the tasks assigned included a lot of fun, managerial, organizational-type activities, plus a free pass to all the shows.
So far, not a bad gig.
The only not-particularly thrilling part of the job included leading the clean-up in the early morning of whatever trash-leaving shenanigans of the previous evening. Thus, every morning, I find myself hauling bags of trash into a humungous dumpster with Joni Mitchell’s face painted on it.
Ouch, Saskatoon, I hope you treat Buffy Sainte-Marie with a little more respect.
Once again, I digress.
In my decade, in the Yukon, I’ve attended my healthy share of festivals. And, these days, if one has a mind to, they could hopscotch across the territory, all summer long, taking in outdoor party after party, generally leaving a trail of festival-fuelled trash the whole way.
I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty many times of pulling stunts like playing “Garbage Jenga”, adding my waste to already-overfilling cans and walking away quickly to absolve myself of any responsibility or depositing half-filled booze receptacles wherever my “done-for-the-night” brain decided to drop them … and I now truly understand that having the street meat vendors outside the Midnight Sun at 3 a.m. is not a right, but a privilege.
And a delicious privilege indeed.
It’s inevitable that gathering a large group of people together in revelry may lead to crazed monkey-children-like behaviour. But if every once in a while you could make the wise decision to not throw the bottle at the road sign or maybe not see if you can hit your friend on the other side of the ferry with your basket of fries, it would go a long way to making for a better festival experience.
Plus … you’ll be sad when your fries are gone, trust me.
Festival organizers and their volunteers want nothing more than for everybody to be having the best experience ever, and that’s even with cleaning up our collective mess.
And for that I say, “Thanks.”
Next festival, hug a volunteer and buy the producers a drink; or, vice-versa. At least make an effort to get all your detritus in the garbage can. It’s appreciated.
Now, having seen the other side of the festival experience, I can truly recognize the value of the sheer amount of dedicated volunteer work that makes a festival happen.
People who are willing to help hose out a smelly porta-potty, for no pay, get a thumbs-up from me (though I was too busy holding the door open and my nose closed to actually give the guy one).