RBC Bluesfest Volunteer Handbook

RBC Bluesfest 2019 Volunteer Handbook

Dearest Volunteer,

Welcome to the 2019 RBC Bluesfest Volunteer Team! This year’s festival takes place over 10 days between Thursday, July 4th and Sunday, July 14th and includes 175+ acts on 4 stages, dozens of local food vendors and is expected to see a crowd of over 300,000 spectators.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of what you should expect from this year’s volunteer experience, we want to take a moment and thank YOU from the bottoms of our music-lovin’ hearts for the time and commitment you’re giving to make this year the best it can be. The only way this festival succeeds is with our incredible force of dedicated volunteers, and we cannot emphasize enough the amount of gratitude we have for your personal contribution.

Since we’re all in this massive undertaking together, we want to make sure that we’re all on the same page, in order to make your time at the festival as enjoyable and stress-free as a 300,000 person party can be. This means that we’re going to provide you with copious amounts of training resources, support and positive feedback. In addition to your Area Leader’s sage advice, you can rely on the Volunteer FAQs, our Code of Conduct, the festival site Emergency Plan, Orientation Guide, plus this Volunteer Handbook to ensure that whatever job you happen to be doing, you have the resources available to do it to the best of your ability.

Speaking of the best of your ability, that’s what we’re looking for from you! From your first scheduled shift to your last, we’re looking for you to be the pleasant, respectful and generally AMAZING volunteer that we’ve come to know and love, not only towards your fellow volunteers, but also festival staff, artists and patrons.

Let’s make 2019 the best year yet!

Your Volunteer Services Team

Jamine Ackert, Interim Volunteer Manager
Sarah Speed, Administration Systems Coordinator, Volunteer Services



Volunteering with RBC Bluesfest comes with certain advantages:

RFID wristband (festival accreditation & meals)

• your RFID wristband will be issued to you when you check in at Volunteer Village; it is your access key to the festival, as well as your identification as a volunteer.

• wristbands must never be shared with someone else and they will only be replaced if you registered it before losing it

NEW VOLUNTEERS: You will be given your volunteer wristband when you check in for your first shift. After you complete your first shift, you have access to all shows and concerts free of charge, including on days you are not volunteering!

RETURNING VOLUNTEERS: You will be given your volunteer wristband when you check in for your first shift or a free show. You have access to all shows and concerts free of charge including those that happen BEFORE your first shift!

Volunteer Village

• Volunteer Village is located on Block V (on Booth, across from the festival), between our Bike Park and the Holocaust War Monument
• located across from the festival site, Volunteer Village is a space exclusively for volunteers
• inside the space are a number of amenities available for the volunteers, including a sitting area, private washroom facilities, bag check, and Outdoor Blues Café

Bag & Coat Check (Volunteer Ambassadors & Bag Check)
Daily: 11:00 AM–11:30 PM

• located in Volunteer Village
• volunteers have access to a free and secure bag & coat check station
• any bags entering the festival site will be inspected for security reasons, so save yourself the hassle and check your bag & coat!

Outdoor Blues Café (OBC)
Weekdays: 3:00 PM–9:00 PM; Daily Special: 4:00PM–8:00PM
Weekends: 1:00PM–9:00 PM; Daily Special: 2:00PM–7:00PM

• located in Volunteer Village
• you have access to a free meal in OBC for every shift you work during the festival (meals can only be accessed on days that you’re working)
• your meal tickets are loaded onto your bracelet with your daily festival accreditation when you sign in for your shift at Volunteer Check-In
• best efforts are made to provide some alternative options to address dietary concerns; however, not all restrictions can be accommodated
• please plan to get your meal before or after your shift, as on-shift meal breaks are not the norm and are only granted at the discretion of your Area Leader
• meal options include a grill item OR the Daily Special, plus a drink and a serving from our extensive salad bar
• the Daily Special is available while quantities last*

*if you want to try the Daily Special, please consider the hours of availability when scheduling your shifts—if your shift overlaps with the Daily Special, you may not be able to access it that day.

And if ALL that wasn’t enough, studies have shown that people who volunteer for events they care about have an increased personal well-being and a stronger connection with the community. Additionally, volunteers who contribute their time for altruistic reasons tend to have higher levels of self-esteem, happiness and psychological well-being, AND reduced levels of stress—so you’re welcome!


With thousands of volunteers doing hundreds of tasks, it can be hard to figure out what exactly we expect from you. To help keep it straight, here’s our Volunteer Top 10: 

1. Know what you’re signing up for. Read through all the resources that we provide to you, come to the Volunteer Orientation for your area, read any emails that you get from us prior to and during the festival, and get in touch with your Area Leader. If you’ve done all of this and STILL have questions, follow up with your Volunteer Services Team—we’re here to help!

2. Adhere to our policies about drugs and alcohol. Giving us your best means that you’re at your best for the entirety of your shift. All outside alcohol and illegal substances are to be kept off the premises and you must start and finish every shift sober.

3. Respect patrons, artists and fellow volunteers. Harassment is not acceptable in any way shape or form. You should be able to enjoy the festival unimpeded, and so should everyone else.

4. Respect the privacy of others and the confidentiality of any festival information. Being a volunteer with us could mean you know things that others don’t. Any information that you may learn regarding the festival, (e.g. programming, performer details, proprietary training information, personal information of any other volunteer, etc.) should only be discussed with your Area Leader or with Volunteer Services.

5. Notify your Area Leader of any absences well in advance. If you can’t attend a shift, let your Area Leader know as soon as possible. If you can’t reach your Area Leader, email volunteerassistant@ottawabluesfest.ca and make sure to let the Volunteer Services Assistant know:

• your full name
• your area/activity
• assigned shift start time
• location
• reason for cancelling

6. Be reliable. For the length of the festival, you should consider yourself a calculator: your team is counting on you! Show up for shifts, return from breaks in a timely manner, and make sure to pull your weight with your team.

7. Check in at Volunteer Village and then check in with your Area Leader or Supervisor at the beginning of your shift and as required throughout. No matter what area you’re with, the first thing you should do after getting onsite is check in at Volunteer Check-In! This is located in Volunteer Village and it’s where you you’ll get your festival accreditation, volunteer t-shirt and meal tickets, so make sure to stop by first thing!

After checking in with the volunteer team, you’ll make your way to your Area Leader or Supervisor before you get started so they can mark you as “Present”.

8. Use technology appropriately. Cell phones, digital music players, laptops and other electronic devices should be used only when necessary while you’re on duty, but feel free to use them to your heart’s content before and after your shift, or while you’re on break. We also ask that you refrain from identifying yourself as a volunteer and commenting on social media on behalf of the festival. If you have feedback or comments, please reach out to your Area Leader or the Volunteer Services Team—we are happy to help!

9. Be present. When you’re volunteering, you’re an ambassador of RBC Bluesfest. Don’t use your position to solicit for other causes or events.

10. HAVE FUN! This is an awesome opportunity to meet some other amzaing volunteers and create some wonderful memories—take advantage of your time here!


Whether you’re new this year or just excited to be back, getting ready for your shifts can be a little overwhelming. Have no fear, the Volunteer Checklist is here to make sure that you get started (and stay!) on the right foot.

Get mentally and physically ready for your shift

Take a nap, go for a run, have an espresso, listen to “Eye of the Tiger”. Whatever you need to do to get in the volunteer frame of mind, take some time and do it.

Check the weather & prepare accordingly

Like Scar and his hyena army sing in The Lion King, “BE PREPARED!” Although your goal is to perpetrate excellent customer service and not fratricide, it is, nonetheless, excellent advice. Items you may want to bring include:

• YOUR VOLUNTEER T-SHIRT! (see below for more info about this)
• sunscreen & hat
• sweater
• reusable water bottle
• any medications that you may need while you’re on shift
• Tupperware (in case you need to take your Outdoor Blues Café meals to go!)
• appropriate footwear for your area (e.g. runners, rain boots, steel-toed shoes)
• raincoat, rain poncho and/or personal umbrella
• etc!

Head over to the festival grounds

First, make sure to leave yourself enough time! Consider traffic, weather conditions, construction work, whether you’re planning on eating your free meal at Outdoor Blues Café before your shift, as well as how long it will take you to get over to your Area Leader/Supervisor from Volunteer Village.

We’re located centrally at LeBreton Flats, along the Transitway and beside the Canadian War Museum, so there are several transportation options are available to you:

Walking: One of your more eco-friendly options, please check our website to see what entryways are available to you.

Riding a bike: Also eco-friendly, parking your bike on-site won’t be a problem. We offer free valet bicycle parking in our Bike Park for the length of the festival. Bike Park hours of operation are Weekdays from 2:30 PM-11:30 PM and Weekends from 12:00 PM-11:30 PM (let the team know if your shift goes later so that they know to wait for you!)

Bus: The Transitway has stops within walking distance of the festival grounds. Plan your route at www.octranspo.com

RBC Bluesfest Volunteers can access OC Transpo for free to and from the festival—three hours before gates open and two hours after the music stops – once they have signed in and received their volunteer accreditation (wristband).

If you are a new Volunteer, your volunteer wristband will only be distributed to you when you are signing in for your first shift. Please do not come to Volunteer Check-In to receive your wristband on a day prior to your shift.

Returning Volunteers can access OC Transpo for free once they have signed in for their first shift or a free show and received their wristband.

Car: We have no reserved parking onsite, so if you need to use a car to get to site, we recommend having someone else drop you off, or using a ride-share option.

Wear your volunteer t-shirt

You’ll be issued your very own RBC Bluesfest t-shirt when you check in for your first shift. T-shirts should be worn proudly while you’re on duty and must be removed when a shift ends. While it may be tempting to personalize your shirt, please keep them in the same pristine condition you get them in, at least until after the festival is done.

Sign-in at Volunteer Check-In and drop your bag off with Volunteer Ambassadors & Bag Check

Make sure you bring your photo ID over to Volunteer Village at least 15 minutes before each shift starts in order to sign in. And if you’re planning on seeing a free show on a day when you don’t have a shift, you’ll need to sign in at the Volunteer Check-In or at our Free Show satellite station first.

Volunteer Check-In hours of operation are 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM, daily.

New this year, there are TWO locations for Free Show Check-In! The first is still at the corner of Booth Street and Vimy. This station is ONLY for volunteers coming to see a free show.  If you are checking in for a shift, we still need you to go to Volunteer Village. The second is at the Volunteer Gate, behind the museum by Videotron Stage. Skip the crowds by using the Volunteer Gate for your shifts and your free shows!

Free Show check in opens one hour before our festival Gates open (4:45 PM weekdays & 2:45 PM weekends)

The latest check-in for a free show at the satellite station is 10:00 p.m. Unfortunately, late-comers can’t be accommodated, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time!

If you have a backpack or coat that you don’t want to carry around during your shift, feel free to leave it at the bag check with Volunteer Ambassadors & Bag Check. If you’re working the last shift of the day, make sure to pick up your gear from the Ambassadors before they leave, between 11:00 AM and 11:30 PM, daily.


During the hot days of summer, water is H2Oh-so-good for you. Stay hydrated throughout your shift by filling up your water bottle at one of our water refill stations on our festival grounds, or inside of the museum.

Stay green

It’s not easy being green but it is important. Familiarize yourself with the RBC Bluesfest’s environmental policies & greening initiatives and help keep the festival clean by using compostable & recyclable options, and keeping trash to a minimum and placing it in the appropriate receptacles.

Stay safe!

Do what you need to do to safeguard your health, avoid injury and protect yourself. There is a First Aid tent in the Main Bowl, we have a roving team of First Aid responders circling the grounds and most areas have access to a First Aid kit.



This is a smattering of other important information that all of our volunteers should be aware of in order to help patrons, artists and other volunteers:


RBC Bluesfest is committed to providing accessible customer service to people with disabilities; in a manner that respects their dignity, independence, integration and that is equitable in relation to the broader public. The festival permits people with disabilities to use assistive devices, service animals and/or support personnel. The festival has established an Accessibility volunteer team (A-Team) who provide support and feedback to continually improve the accessibility of the event. A-Team volunteers will be roaming the site to offer support, and stationed in the A-Team Tent (near the Info Booth) to offer guidance and light support as needed. Volunteers are encouraged to bring a support worker with them to each shift if they need additional assistance.

First Aid

The headquarters for First Aid are located next to Info Booth, across from the Canadian War Museum entrance.  There are also roaming First Aid teams from the Gatineau Ski Patrol that circulate the grounds and who are recognizable by their navy jackets that say FIRST AID.

Lost & Found

All found items should be delivered to the on-site RBC Bluesfest Admin Office located within the Canadian War Museum, which is also where lost items can be claimed.

Lost children

Lost children should be delivered to Info Booth in order to reunite them with their parents as soon as possible. Unclaimed children will be adopted by Leadbelly.

Severe weather conditions

Your Area Leader has an emergency plan for your area. Make sure you know the plan, remain calm, listen to the instructions of your Area Leader, and direct any patron questions or concerns to him/her.

Changes to the festival schedule and site access due to weather conditions will be posted on our website.

Youth Teams

The following volunteer teams accept youth volunteers aged 15-17:

• 50/50 Raffle
• Alternates
• A-Team
• Backstage Services
• Bead Tent
• Beverage Cashiers
• Bike Park
• Envirodish
• Gates
• Green Team
• Info Booth
• Merch Tent
• Outdoor Blues Café
• Photojournalism Team
• Promo Crew
• Stage Crew
• Volunteer Ambassadors & Bag Check

Youth – High school volunteer hours

If you’re still in high school, the hours you volunteer with us can count towards your required volunteer hours. Make sure that our event is approved by your school, and if it is, remember to bring your school-issued form with you to EACH shift and ask your Area Leader to sign it immediately after you finish each day.

Please note: If you have misplaced your sheet, you will have to get a letter of confirmation from the Volunteer Services team.

Youth – Parental permission form

If you are between the ages of 15 and 17 on the first day of the festival, you MUST bring your Parental Permission Form, signed by your parent or legal guardian, to Volunteer Check-In at the start of your first shift. Parental Permission Forms can be found HERE.


 Contact the Volunteer Services team at volunteers@ottawabluesfest.ca.