Heritage Festival volunteer extraordinaire Grace Baber talks importance of annual event

Published 12:46 am Saturday, March 4, 2023

NEDERLAND — Grace Baber has a good reason to spend hours volunteering at the Nederland Heritage Festival.

“I just love it,” Baber said. “I love the fact we’re all there to give back to the community and are able to help other nonprofits that help the community. It’s a about paying it forward.”

Baber is a longtime volunteer with the NHF and is this year’s program dedication honoree.

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She is described as a passionate, giving and determined person who loves spending time at the festival events.

According to information from festival organizers, Baber’s volunteering with concessions row sparked her interest in 2001.

“Grace’s passion for giving back makes her the perfect fit to co-chair concessions. She served on the executive board from 2011 to 2022,” according to the information from the event program. “Her insight, experience and dedication assisted in many of the improvements that we enjoy today.”

A lot of work goes into putting on a festival, from the pageant weekend to fence posts driven into the ground to helping trailers park.

“Our volunteers put in a lot of manpower and we couldn’t do it without all of the volunteers. It’s a lot of work for the volunteers and myself,” she said.

Many of the volunteers are so dedicated they give up vacation time to put in the hours to work the festival.

“We are usually there every morning of the festival. Many of the volunteers are there at 6 a.m. starting to clean up, making sure the garbage cans are out and ready for the crowds,” she said. “The whole transportation crew is there to help the non profit food vendors. They start at 8 a.m. bringing them to get their products hauled in for the day.”

The volunteers then stay at least an hour after the event shuts down to clean up and get ready for the next day of festival. “We‘re a huge family, we’re just a huge family,” she said.

Baber said there’s a whole world that goes on behind the scenes of a festival.

“When you volunteer to sit on this side of a festival or fair it changes the way you look at any that you attend. You know what it takes,” she said.