Q&A : Advice on the importance of volunteering with Emily Keegan


Emily Keegan, a co-chair of the Black Swamp Arts Festival’s volunteer committee.

Megan Finke and Megan Finke

The 2021 Black Swamp Arts Festival is this weekend and the community is preparing. Emily Keegan, co-chair of the volunteer committee, explains how important volunteers are to putting the festival together. The experience doesn’t seem like volunteering as you are submerged in music and fun. 

What do you do?

“I am a co-chair of the volunteer committee for Black Swamp Art Festival, I’m co-chair with Anne Mclaughlin.”

How long have you been working as co-chair?

“This is my first year, I joined the board just a couple of months ago.”

How much experience do you have with BSAF?

“Well, I’m a Bowling Green resident and have gone ever since I was a teenager.”

So have you volunteered previous years?

“I have volunteered a couple of years and I also serve on a lot of local boards. Volunteering is kind of my jam.”

What does volunteering look like at the BSAF?

“So we have about 14 different sorts of areas of volunteering. Everything, you know, this festival can’t happen without volunteers. So we need folks everywhere from serving beer, to helping artists set up, making artists feel comfortable and providing live an artist lounge where they can kind of relax, get out of the heat and have water. We need volunteers to help us with our youth art, too. And keeping the festival green, we’ve got a recycling team and that’s all volunteers. And even the folks who organize this whole festival year round, they’re working behind the scenes and they too are volunteers.”

What’s something you would recommend to first time festival goers?

You’re going to have everything. You know, you’re going to want to experience everything. When you come to the festival, our music and food is primarily located in lot two, which is a big parking lot, just east of downtown, behind the east side of Main Street. But just you know, walking, if you come downtown, you’re gonna see art all down Main Street. So we are an arts festival but that includes the visual arts and music. So you got to check out the whole shebang. It’ll be right there and easily. 

So how can someone go about volunteering for BSAF?

“On our website, BlackSwampfest.org, there’s a support option or a volunteer button. Folks click that, and it’s going to take you to our signup.com page, which has all of our areas where you can volunteer. And also it shows you how many spots are left there. So if folks go and take a look at that, you’ll see where we still need some help. And that’s definitely with youth arts, team engagement and we also need help with our recycling crew. And you know, a big part of the festival is our beer garden and to do that we’ve got to check IDs and sell tickets, and we need folks to help us with that.” 

Why would you tell people to volunteer for the BSAF?

“It’s fun. Whether you’re picking up plastic bottles for the recycling bins or helping kids make crafts and do tie-dye, you will hear music, you will be around art so you’re a part of it. It’s definitely an opportunity to enjoy the festival while also making sure that it happens. We have a lot of great opportunities for volunteering in Bowling Green and I encourage young people to volunteer as much as possible. But I think for this one, it’s a good opportunity for college students to get off campus and come downtown and see it in a different way.”

Awesome. Well, is there anything else you would like to tell me about the arts festival coming up next weekend?

“I think I would say no, I just hope that folks come down and visit it, we didn’t have it last year because of COVID. So it’s great to be able to get out of the house and see everybody in the community get to do something fun.”