Most consider that one of the job’s primary perks.
“When people talk about the festival family, they mean it,” said longtime volunteer Catherine Ealick-Anderson. “It’s not just some casual phrase.”
Ealick-Anderson — in her 16th go-round as a fest volunteer — has her hands full as chairwoman of the Children’s Park and Teen Territory.
Aided by her section team, she has helped craft and curate a diverse slate of programming for the youth in attendance, from bungee jumping to hands-on building projects.
“We’re bigger and better this year and we hope to keep growing,” said Ealick-Anderson. “You’re going to see a ribbon of activities starting from our now-expanded Teen Territory on Hildebrand Drive through the Children’s Park located in the grassy meadow behind the Williams-Payne House and across Sandy Springs Place to the original Teen Territory.”
Since taking root, Ealick-Anderson’s labors of love have branched out to every member of her immediate family.
Her husband, Jim, chairs the festival security committee. The couple’s children, John and Caroline, grew up volunteering there.
“I can’t remember ever not volunteering,” said Caroline Anderson, 23. “It’s just been so much fun. All the volunteers have become my family … [being here] just provides you with a great sense of community.”
Bob Beard, another longtime volunteer, has similar sentiments.
He has worked here the past eight years chairing the festival’s beautification unit alongside his wife, Susan. Like the volunteers assigned to the festival’s other planning components, the couple’s work on next year’s event begins as soon as the 2013 edition ends.
Bob Beard summed up fest volunteers’ collective efforts as “very tiring and rewarding.”
“You put in a lot of long hours — including all the setting up and breaking down — but you get to work with great people,” said Beard. “Anytime you’re [servicing] 20,000 folks it’s not going to be easy … but it’s not bad considering what you get out of it.”
Volunteers like the Beards and Andersons also talked about the two-fold bonus of seeing the old mingling with the new — first-time festivalgoers and familiar faces in the same space in pursuit of good times.
“It’s a very meaningful experience to see families come out and be a part of this,” said Ealick-Anderson. “It’s really a central gathering place for us all … as we celebrate Sandy Springs’ [cityhood].”
If you go:
o What: 28th annual Sandy Springs Festival
o When: Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
o Where: Heritage Green, 6110 Bluestone Road, and surrounding streets
o Tickets: free for children 5 and under and Heritage Sandy Springs members; $2 for children 6 to 17; $5 for adults; two-day passes are $3 for children 6 to 17 and $7 for adults
o Benefits: Heritage Sandy Springs
o Information: www.heritagesandysprings.org