I’ve always given Jay’s mom Cindi a hard time about the fact that she uses her car’s bun warmers on the “cold” days in Phoenix. You know, when it dips down to a frosty 50 degrees. Well, Saturday evening I was immensely grateful that A) I had borrowed Cindi’s car & B) her car has bun warmers. After 4 hours of sitting in the Ticket Booth at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, I was chilled to the bone. The event was sullied by a dreary 40 degree drizzle. Not only was it nasty weather, but the crowd and staff were unprepared, with mini skirts, sandals, and jean jackets. One girl explained that she had told her friend to wear “winter” clothes and then pointed to her friend who I noticed was dressed in wedge heals, leggings, a mini skirt, short sleeve top, with a faux fur vest. In this situation my most useful skill as a volunteer was dressing for the weather. I was chilled, but managing in LL Bean pants, a polypropelene long sleeve shirt, windstopper fleece vest, and Mountain Hardwear rain jacket. I was ready to hold out until 9:15 pm when the booth closed. We were able to let the other 2 volunteers go home early before it got dark. I was grateful that the event organizers shut down the event one hour early.
Big fundraising events are a huge gamble. Last year, this event raised about $330,000 for arts organizations in the Phoenix metro area. For some of the very small arts groups, this event may be their sole source of funding. With Phoenix and the State of Arizona in financial disaster, there is little to no government support for the Arts. The rain, a cold and miserable afternoon for us, is likely to mean a miserable year for the arts community in Phoenix. Hopefully, Sunday’s sales will be big and help to close the gap.
One neat thing about volunteering at events all over the country for all different types of nonprofits, is that you get to see different ways of doing things. For the Culinary Festival, I was assigned to “tickets”, but this year they had replaced tickets with an Event Card. The card looked and acted like a debit card. Patrons could load the card with up to $100. The card was accepted at all of the booths and entrances throughout the festival. The patrons were very happy to find out that they could also get a refund for whatever was left on the card when they decided to leave. When the dark storm clouds rolled in, we had a rush on the booth for refunds. Guests were very happy for this option, and some of them chose to donate all or part of their remaining balance to the Scottsdale League for the Arts.
By the way, in case you are wondering – I volunteered alone for this one because Jay was playing his Best Man role at the bachelor party for his brother Nate.