Rickie Collins recognized for Nederland Heritage Festival volunteerism

Published 12:18 am Sunday, February 25, 2024

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NEDERLAND — It can be said volunteers are the heartbeat behind any successful organization; especially one that hosts a six-day festival that brings in thousands of people.

Rickie Collins is one of those volunteers who helps make the Nederland Heritage Festival a success.

Collins is a behind-the-scenes person, though his many hours of service help the event run smoothly and efficiently.

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Collins, a Nederland native, was recently recognized by the NHF organization, and the event’s program booklet is dedicated to him.

Shannon Hemby, executive director of the NHF, said Collins is an all around great guy dedicated to the festival.

Collins helps mans the back gate, or parking lot, which is near the rear of the festival office. This parking area is for festival workers and staff. Collins is the man who greets those individuals and assists with parking directions.

From his position, he sees a lot of the festival.

“We always try to relieve him at the back gate, and he’ll tell us, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, don’t worry about me,’” Hemby said. “He is one of the nicest guy’s you’ll ever meet.”

Collins said his daughter and wife were already volunteering with the festival before his involvement. They kept talking to him about volunteering, and one day he did.

He started out delivering ice to the vendor booths, then when the previous “gate guy” retired, he moved to that spot and has been there ever since.

“Once you volunteer, you’re there for life,” Collins said with a chuckle.

But it’s not a chore for Collins. He said he enjoys meeting all kinds of people going in and out of the gate. He also enjoys seeing the smiling faces of the people visiting the festival.

“Especially the kids,” he said. “That’s what it’s there for. I get a kick out of watching them have fun.”

Outside of the festival, Collins spent more than 30 years in the military, seven years in the U.S. Army and 25 years with the National Guard and Army Reserve.

He is also a 29-year member of the Nederland Masonic Lodge, where he has served as secretary for approximately 22 years.

Collins’ professional career was spent at Valero as an operator. He is now retired.

Collins remembers his three daughters going to the festival together.

Now, one of his daughters helps run the Tiny Tot portion of the scholarship pageant and his wife is involved with running vendors back and forth in a golf cart.

Collins called it an honor being recognized for his volunteerism with the festival.

“There’s a lot of people that work there and do a lot of things,” he said. “I’m really honored they thought of dedicating the program to me. I’ve been there a while, but there are others who have been there longer.”

Collins and his wife Mary have been married for 51 years and have three daughters, two sons-in-law and seven grandchildren.

They are members of St. Charles Catholic Church.

“Mr. Rick, your service and dedication to others throughout your life illustrates your giving spirit,” according to the program booklet dedication. “Nederland Heritage Festival appreciates your commitment, generosity, and willingness to lend a hand for everyone to benefit. Thank you for always supporting others for everyone’s life to be better.”

Nederland Heritage Festival runs from March 12 to March 17 along Boston Avenue in Nederland.

For more information visit nederlandhf.org, visit their Facebook page or call 409-724-2269.