Volunteer work is noble, but cleaning your town's leech-infested river can be a bit of a slog. Signing up to volunteer at the Great American Beer Festival is an entirely different story. Each year, the massive meeting of beer minds relies on thousands of volunteers to greet guests, assist in merchandise, and, of course, pour brews. We spoke to Barry Buckley, the volunteer floor manager who's been lending his help to the festival since 2002 (and attending since 1993), about what it's like to serve at the biggest beer fest in the country. Shockingly, it's kind of awesome.
Scouting the talent
Anyone can email the GABF about volunteering, provided they have serious suds knowledge, but much of the team gets personally recruited by vets like Buckley. "A lot of times I would go out to dinner and I would like the host that helped me, or the waitstaff, or the bartender," Buckley says. "And I would ask them if they’ve ever heard of the Great American Beer Festival. Usually the answer was, 'I’ve always wanted to go but it’s always sold out. And I have no idea how to get there.' So I would say, 'Well, I am a volunteer captain. I manage a beer team and I’m always looking for great people.' Their eyes would just gleam." When Buckley was a beer captain, his team went from 42 to about 500 in three years through his scouting, so you definitely want to wait on this guy.