Saskatchewan Jazz Festival volunteer celebrates 30 years of work

Behind every note at Saskatchewan’s Jazz Festival in Saskatoon is a band of volunteers led in part by Kathryn Ellis.

On a recent afternoon, she was part of group setting up umbrellas and tables that would eventually overlook the festival’s main stage at the Delta Bessborough Gardens. The 10-day event wrapped up Sunday night.

“All the amount of planning doesn’t amount to anything if you don’t have the people to put it in place,” Ellis said in an interview. She first started volunteering at the festival in 1987, the year it began.

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    “These last thirty years have just gone like that.”

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    Ellis has seen her responsibilities increase over her years with the festival. She was first a transportation volunteer and now coordinates set-up and take-down.

    “The operation really runs at the volunteer level,” said Kevin Tobin, the festival’s artistic director.

    “We have a dedicated group of volunteers that come back year after year, bring energy, enthusiasm; they’re great ambassadors for this city.”

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    Ellis said roughly 400 people volunteered at the event this year, compared to around 50 during the festival’s early years. The event brings vibrancy to the community according to Ellis, who added that she doesn’t see it striking a final chord any time soon.

    “Another thirty years? You bet.”

    “Not impossible at all.”


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