Priyanka Ketkar/Special to The News
Ridge Meadows Home Show, the massive event that will bring together hundreds of vendors and thousands of community members this weekend, has a strong backbone in the form of volunteers who make the show possible.
Student volunteers are an absolutely essential part of the show – before, during, and after the event, said Jhammi-Leigh Gunnarsen, assistant event coordinator and the volunteer program co-ordinator for the home show.
This year’s show has returned, and is set to run Friday through Sunday, April 29 through May 1 at Planet Ice, Golden Ears Winter Club, and Albion Fairgrounds.
“All throughout the time I have been here, which is 11 years, everyone has said that our students are a vital part of the show,” she explained.
“If we didn’t have those bodies in the show helping us, volunteering their valuable time to us, we would not be able to have a successful show. We couldn’t get it done without them,” Gunnarsen added.
This year, the show has eight departments where students are volunteering; kitchen, FunZone, hosting, marketing, office/production team, parking/security, recycling, and staging.
“Through these departments, student volunteers get a chance to meet the guests, greet them, survey the crowd for valuable information that informs future shows, work with kids and exhibitors, guide and direct guests and exhibitors to parking stalls and maintain order, take care of setup, garbage, or even be in charge of keeping all the volunteers and adult staff well-fed,” she elaborated.
In the past, the show would get almost 150 student volunteers, but with changes in volunteer hour requirements for students since 2016, the student volunteer numbers have gone down, said Gunnarsen.
“Now, unfortunately, we see only around 50 students come through our program. We have been trying to gain more access and more students,” said Gunnarsen.
She, herself, started as a student volunteer when she was only 14 years old, and eventually got a job with the home show.
She said that volunteering with the show can prove to be an important milestone in students’ lives, as it could be a great step towards a full-time career.
“I fell in love with the show, and I am actually now the assistant event co-ordinator and I have a full-time job with the show. We have so many avenues coming from the show, from event planning to cooking, to staging, that students can actually go forward within these and build their careers in the future,” Gunnarsen said.
“Thank you to our student volunteers. We are so excited to be able to bring you back, and do something good for the community together. And anything we are able to teach you, we are more than excited for it.”
The home show – which features the trade show; the Family Fest complete with amusement rides, live entertainment, and a monster foam party; psychic and wellness fair; food truck festival, and much more – takes place in and around the Albion Fairgrounds. The event runs from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Parking is free. The only admission fee is for the home show component of the event, which is $5 per person or $8 for families.
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