As I walked around the Fringe grounds on my first day of volunteering I noticed all of the smiles. The smell of elephant ears and delicious green onion cakes was in the air. Childhood memories came rushing back. The feeling was electric. On my first day I was fortunate to work the wine tent and met two volunteers: Director of Development Debbie Bucynski, with the festival for the last four years and bar manager Kelsey Kat, a Grade 6 teacher. This was her first year. I spoke with many others and they all had so much heart and soul pouring out of them when they spoke of the Fringe. Many of the volunteers return each year for the 10-day event just off Whyte Avenue.
The Fringe international originated in Edinburgh, Scotland and has spread across the world, from Canada to Australia. In 1977 a man named Brian Paisley created the Chinook Theatre in Fort St. John, B.C.. He wanted to create a space for young audiences and show them something different. In 1980 the Chinook Theatre relocated to Edmonton. As the Fringe matured and grew, it started to incorporate a “Kids Fringe” and street performers to gain a more diverse audience. It is now in its 34th year and is stronger than ever. It’s amazing how the community, the city and the province come together for this event. There is year-round funding and the organization itself receives private donations from the community. My experience with the Fringe this year will never be forgotten. I have met so many passionate people whose sweat and tears keep it fun and entertaining. Artists and actors come from all over the world to participate. We, as a city, are very fortunate to have such an event and most don’t even realize what it takes to keep something like this going. If you had a chance to take in the festivities or plays, you were one of the lucky ones. If you didn’t, it will be back in full force next year and for years to come. If you would like to volunteer next year, you can contact Matthew Fasullo at Matthew.Fasullo@fringetheatre.ca Also, if you would like to take a look at the Fringe’s website to get more information, you can go to www.fringetheatre.ca