• Last modified 286 days ago (Aug. 10, 2023)


In harmony: Bluegrass volunteers enjoy supporting lake

Staff writer

Christy Hensley had to walk only a few steps to volunteer for the 16th annual Bluegrass at the Lake.

Hensley lives in a mobile home at Marion County Park and Lake.

Dressed in a blue “Friends of Marion County Lake Association Member” T-shirt, she was one of about 30 people who volunteered to help during the two-day event.

“I think it’s fun, and they need help,” Hensley, a Clearwater resident, said. “It’s all for the good of the lake.”

This year was Hensley’s second volunteering to work the gate. She’s had a trailer at the lake for about 20 years.

Lake superintendent Isaac Hett relies on volunteers to pull off the festival, which features regional bluegrass bands.

Consulting a list, Hett said he had 19 people signed up to work two gates, two people to run a bake sale, four to run a silent auction, three to operate a cornhole tournament, and two others who served on a festival committee.

Hett did a refresher course at one of the gates for those taking money, handing out wristbands, and hawking T-shirts and koozies.

Ric and Irene Barkman of Hutchinson have volunteered for about four years. They also have a mobile home at the lake.

They signed up for shifts Friday and Saturday, answering questions such as: “Can we come and go?” “Where do we park?” and “What kind of food is there?”

They stopped people who were trying to drive to campsites, explaining that they would have to take a different road.

Most people are pleasant, Irene Barkman said.

“It is very social,” she said. “It’s fun.”

Ric Barkman said those who own trailers at the lake make up the largest number of volunteers.

“It’s kind of a big family. We all get to have fun together,” he said.

The Barkmans made on-the-fly decisions about matters such as where people with handicap placards should park. When Hett returned to the front gate, he confirmed where they should park.

Hett gave volunteers a radio to contact him for questions they couldn’t handle.

“Isaac and Mike Crane are who we call if we need something,” Irene Barkman said.

The Barkmans greeted a couple from Australia who were in town visiting a relative. Meeting people, Irene Barkman said, is one of the perks of volunteering.

The Barkmans, Hensley said, “have never met a stranger.”

Mike Crane is one of the four founders of the festival.

The association, of which he is president, is the biggest sponsor of the event, he said.

“The trailer owners want to give back to the lake,” he said.

The festival started out as a battle of the bands and grew from there.

“This is my own nightmare,” he said, joking about the work it takes to organize the festival.

Money raised helps pay for improvements at the lake. This year, the association plans to put up three power poles with lights that can be used for events such as an annual chili cookoff.

Last modified Aug. 10, 2023