Thursday, December 7, 2023
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Step Up for Volunteers

By Mitzuko Byres

Event volunteers not only help lower costs, but they also make an event run more efficiently. The Heart O’ Texas (HOT) Fair & Rodeo held at the Extraco Events Center in Waco attracted over 230,000 visitors last year, and it takes more than 500 volunteers to wrangle all the logistics. 

“During our 11-day fair, we have 24 different committees operating on the grounds, each doing something unique—everything from public relations to helping out during Mutton Bustin (an activity where kids ride sheep) in the Kid’s Zone, to working the barbecue cookoff or the golf tournament,” says Katy Fehler, senior division manager for the volunteer program at the Extraco Events Center.

Volunteers at the Heart O' Texas Fair & Rodeo
Courtesy of Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo

There’s even a special committee called Purposeful Acts of Kindness that coordinates and organizes events to show appreciation to the HOT Fair & Rodeo volunteers and staff. Volunteers get perks valued at more than $500, including entry passes for the volunteer and a guest; a volunteer reception and appreciation dinners throughout the year; a designated lounge with snacks, drinks, and a resting spot; free parking at Extraco Events Center for the entire year; and an awards dinner in January honoring years of service.

HOT Fair & Rodeo volunteers also help with ticket sales. “Our volunteers participate in our presale campaign, which supports our scholarship giving,” Fehler says. “They are eligible to receive incentives back based on their sales production. Last year, our volunteer base had a record-setting year and raised $750,000. Our top salespeople just got back from an all-inclusive vacation to Punta Cana [in the Dominican Republic].”

Fehler says it’s important to find the right volunteers. “Recruit those who believe wholeheartedly in your mission, make sure they have a fulfilling role, create a fun environment to serve, and appreciate them always.”