This blog is about Doug Garrett who worked and volunteered with Folkmoot for almost 30 years and retired at the end of 2016. I have known him for about eight years and have seen him manage a lot of important details of the festival and develop relationships with a broad range of our community. I asked him a few questions to get his perspective on his time on the inside of the Folkmoot organization and how he feels about retirement. Enjoy these bits about Doug Garrett:
Q: When did you first start working with Folkmoot?
A: I started working the 2nd year of the festival as a guide. In 2004 I started working in the offices. I worked a total of 32 years with Folkmoot.
Q: What is the most important aspect of Folkmoot to you?
A: 1. Having a wide variety in the selection of groups that come. 2. Great volunteers to help the festival run smoothly. 3. Everybody having a good time while sharing cultures.
Q: What are you planning on doing now?
A: After teaching for 30 years and working for Folkmoot for 32, I am going to work with other nonprofits that help the needy, and I will continue to work with autistic and special needs children.
Q: Will you still attend any of the performances?
A: Definitely, I’m also going to help with some of the events and souvenirs.
Q: What group that has come in the past has had the biggest impact on your life?
A: The first group I had was Austria and I was a teacher back then and did not have much money so they each pitched in $20 for a plane ticket so that I could visit them. They surprised me with the money right as they were leaving for home and I still stay in contact with them.
Q: What is your favorite event during the festival?
A: Many Culture’s Day, because it is about sharing culture with new generations who will grow up with more acceptance and building interest in Folkmoot with kids will help the organization in the long run.
Q: How many groups did you guide for and who were they?
A: I’ve had 22 groups: Austria, Israel four times; Turkey three times; Macedonia, Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania, New Zealand, Mexico, and Peru two times; Puerto Rico, Columbia, Italy two times; Bashkiria, and Taiwan.
Q: What have you learned from this experience?
A: As a guide, you see that every country has the same needs, wants, and desires. Wealth, happiness, and love. Something else I have noticed is that the sharing of culture is very important to all of us.