Organizers of the Kiwanis Music Festival are preparing themselves for a busy month. The festivalâs registration deadline is less than a week away, and organizers say theyâre going to have their hands full right up until the March 16 start date.
âSo far itâs smooth sailing, but itâs really after the registration day that the hard work starts,â says piano co-ordinator Colleen Bowen.
Registration day is Saturday at Cuelenaere Library starting at noon. Although the festival organizing committee allowed online registration this year for the first time, they still expect that day to be their busiest.
âTheyâre starting to come in by mail,â says festival co-ordinator Linda Alberts. âThereâs not a whole lot yet, but the majority usually come in on the 18th.â
After registration closes organizers and volunteers in each of the five main disciplines must verify each entry, create programs and set up their venues. While all of those tasks are time consuming, the real concern for most co-ordinators is volunteers.
âBless the people who do volunteer, but we always need more,â says Bowen, who is in her second year as piano co-ordinator.
âWe could use more volunteers. Thatâs probably our one little glitch,â Alberts agrees.
Finding competitors has never been a problem for the annual festival, which is now in its 66th year. Previous years have seen upwards of 1,500 students compete. Itâs a large event organized by a small group.
âIt would be nice to have some new blood at all levels,â says Alberts, who is now in her 10th year. âWe have lots of competitors, but we need more people at the top levels.â
Newer co-ordinators like Bowen say itâs a daunting challenge, but her co-workers at the festival made the difficulties much easier to deal with.
âIâm a little less terrified (this year),â she says with a laugh. âIâve received so much support from people who have been working the festival for a number of years. Theyâve been so kind.â
Piano is one of the largest disciplines at the festival. Itâs spread across two venues over five days, starting March 24. Other disciplines include Vocal, which runs March 16-18, Strings (March 19-20), Band (April 1-3), and Instrumental (April 7-10). There are also three award shows scheduled for March 21, March 28, and April 11.
Until then, organizers will be hard at work to make sure the competition runs without any interruptions. However, Bowen says, the preparation and struggles are worth it in the end.
âItâs a great opportunity for the kids.â