ESTEVAN - Estevan's Heather Barnstable said she felt "humbled" when the news about her recognition as a volunteer came in last week, as the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association awarded her for her work with the Estevan and District Music Festival.
"I'm very humbled to be recognized for my effort … I'm just trying to do my part and in a small way to give back to the community," Barnstable said.
She explained that once she knew she wanted to give back to the community, she tried finding something that first fits her interests, but is not too time-consuming. While the weeks of the festival and ahead of it are really busy, there is not that much work throughout the year, she said. And the festival itself is a joy for her.
"I enjoy it because you meet new people through it … And I love music. I was a teacher in the public system here in Estevan for 20-some years, so I often was involved in the festival as a participator. So I thought it was a good fit for me ... And I do enjoy going to the festival and just listening to the competitors. There's some really good, good music that happens here in Estevan, and probably one of the biggest things is I like to see kids develop their talents because if they can learn to get up in front of the audience and control their nerves when they're young, they're more likely to be able to do that when they're older," Barnstable explained, adding that many of the local talents who partook in the festival continued professionally with various music careers, which is also always exciting to see.
Each year the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association chooses volunteers that have contributed to music festivals in the province over the years to recognize their work.
Barnstable has been involved with the Estevan and District Music Festival for many decades. She's been in the committee for the past nine or 10 years, but before that she's been a part of it, volunteering, entering classrooms where she taught music, accompanying participants, sending the piano students there and more. Her engagement with the festivals started about 50 years ago when she participated in it as a youth.
In her retirement years, Barnstable had more time to be able to commit to the committee. For the last three or four years, she's overseen finding volunteers, who would come to sessions to announce competitors or be a secretary for an adjudicator, writing out certificates, collecting music, being at the ticket booth, etc.
"My job is to contact these people and set up the times and the schedule and so on for the two weeks," Barnstable explained.
And before that, she was a committee member for friends of the festival, where she had to find people and businesses that would sponsor or donate money to keep the event running as far as scholarships and other expenses.
Barnstable chose music as her way to contribute to the community, but she noted that without volunteers Estevan wouldn't have nearly as much as it has to offer in terms of entertainment, events and activities, and she believes everyone can find a way to help keep the community life going.
"If everybody would just pick up interest of theirs and just donate some time and effort to it, that's how we get to have these things in our community," Barnstable said. "I would like to encourage people to get involved with something they're interested in. It's really rewarding and helps the community."