Get Ready for Load-in and Load‑Out Volunteers Help This Festival’s Procedure Run Smoothly

March 2024, by Pax Bobrow, Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival

Volunteers are easy to find at the Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival. They help with setup, teardown, and more. Photos courtesy of Rhian Swain 

We allow up to 50 artists to load-in the evening before the festival to reduce setup congestion. All 50 must pre-register for early setup. 

All artists may drive up to right across from their booth, unload everything, and then park their vehicle and set up. We offer parking right near the booths. 

Day of setup begins at 9 a.m. No vehicles are allowed in two hours prior to when the festival opens to ensure pedestrian safety. Anyone arriving late gets a team of volunteers to help cart everything in from outside the festival gates, and artists are well-informed about the timing. We have volunteers with maps all over to help artists find their spot quickly and assist with any issues. 

We have dozens of volunteers on hand for setup, breakdown, booth sitting, and more. They all wear the same easy-to-recognize volunteer T-shirt, so artists know who to ask for help. 

For setup and breakdown, we also recommend artists reach out in advance to a local nonprofit, The Hale House, which houses and guides men recovering from addiction. Many artists who are alone hire the gentlemen from Hale House to help them set up and break down, and we have heard this works out very well. 

Load-Out Time 

Artists who abandon the festival without letting us know, making sure we are not only alerted but OK with the reason for leaving early, will not be invited back. 

This is what we send to our festival artists: On Sunday evening, you should remain open and operating until the festival is over. 

At 6:01 p.m., artists may begin packing up their booth; however, they may not bring their vehicle onto the street yet. 

Only after all pedestrian festival attendees have left and security gives the all-clear may vehicles enter the street. After security gives the all-clear, and after the booth is completely packed up, the artist needs to flag a street volunteer who gives them a street pass. 

Once artists have the street pass, they can bring their vehicle on the street — either from the recessed parking or from outside the festival and load everything into their vehicle to depart the festival grounds. 

There is a counterclockwise flow of vehicle traffic. For everyone’s safety, all artists must keep to that pattern. Security scolds us if artists do not follow this. 

More Insight for Artists 

We fine tune our procedures every year. We added the evening prior load-in for 50 pre-registered artists a few years ago and have kept it because it works so well. 

Regarding what else artists can do to help load-in/load-out run smoothly is to know when to ask for help. Have a place for everything in your vehicle, so it comes out of that place and goes back to that place. Do not do the throw it in and sort it out later method of packing. 

Read what the event organizer sends you and do what it says. That information is the method behind the madness, and if you follow it, everything works out. 

We send a guide to our festival artists via email and hand it to them as part of their welcome packet when they check in. Their welcome packets include two badges, one artist ribbon, a numbered booth placard, a dashboard parking pass, a festival program, a tax form, a downtown/city map, an artist grievance form, a hospitality phone number card, and more.