Three Rivers Festival down hundreds of volunteers

Local News

With the Three Rivers Festival only a month away, its executive director is feeling concerned about their lack of volunteers. Jack Hammer said if they don’t get all hands on deck, they may not be able to represent the city of Fort Wayne in its most shining light.

“I think over the years, the spirit of volunteerism has kind of died a little bit,” he said. “We should help build that spirit of volunteerism in Fort Wayne so we can always put our best foot forward when we’re inviting people to come to our city to enjoy our festivals and enjoy our downtown.”

The festival, which runs from July 12 to 20, has upwards of 500,000 attendees.

Hammer said they needed 600 volunteers to cover 1,325 shifts. Right now, they have about 350 volunteers covering about 825 shifts. Ideally, they need 250 more volunteers to cover 500 more shifts. The shifts are two to three hours each.

Some of their most pressing positions are helping hands with the TRF parade, the main festival plaza at Headwaters park, boat excursions, the bed races and Children’s Fest. They also need a ton of help tearing down and putting the festival away after it’s done.

“Having those volunteer shifts filled guarantees us that there’s enough people available to answer the questions, to get people signed up, to get them into events quicker, to make sure that we have people available as safety officers and by doing that, we’re also helping those other volunteers that have already come and volunteered so we’re not just heeping more and more onto them,” Hammer said.

He also thinks that the society’s modern distractions are seducing people away from volunteering.

“I think there’s many things in this life and in this world that is pulling for our attention and I think the lack of that volunteer spirit is because there’s so many things,” he said. “On my phone, I have the entire world of information and I think those kind of things have crept into our society and kind of pushed out that time that we would give for our churches, for our community, and for others.”

Currently, the TRF team is calling on their sponsors , board members, and current volunteers to recruit more volunteers.

He explained that bringing your family or close friends is a great idea. He named longtime volunteer Erin Bullerman as an example, who has bringing her three kids to volunteer for years.

“Volunteer numbers have definitely dropped and it’s very heartbreaking,” Bullerman said. “It’s sad that we don’t hold that kind of committment in our hearts anymore.”

This will be her 21st year volunteering and her children, ages 21, 18, and 15 will be right by her side.

“We’ve always tried to get our children to understand the importance of a hard day’s work without having to have something in return,” she said. “The joy of putting on an event and seeing how much people enjoy it is a reward in itself.”

To sign up for a volunteer opportunity, visit or call (260) 426-5556.

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