5 Years of HeadCount at LOCKN’ – My Volunteer Job Pays the Most

I have had the distinct honor of being the HeadCount Team Leader for all 5 LOCKN' Festival Participation Rows. Every year has been an unforgettable experience that has given me way more than I could have possibly given to it in the first place. After every LOCKN’ I make the 7-8 hour drive home to Central Ohio with a head full of thoughts about the 5-7 days I’ve spent doing what I love to do, and the exceptional people that I get to work alongside. The reality is I struggle with feeling worthy of the opportunities and experiences I have with HeadCount, they are just so spectacular. How could anyone be worthy, let alone myself? This year’s trip home was the absolute most difficult one yet.

You see LOCKN’ 2017 should probably be referred to as Perfect-LOCKN’. The weather, perfect. The line-up, perfect. Then new festival footprint, perfect. The new set up for Participation Row, perfect. Our friends at Ben & Jerry’s scooping out samples all day, perfect. And that is all before you even get to what we were able to accomplish this year. HeadCount was able to sign up 575 people for local election alerts and/or register them to vote. Participation Row had the largest response since we introduced the concept 5 years ago, over 2200 festival goers took at least 4 actions with the different NPOs on the Row including 2 TONS (4,000 pounds) of food collected by Conscious Alliance for local food banks! We literally had to go get more stamp cards printed to accommodate the demand.  Just being able to attend Perfect-LOCKN’ was a reward in itself, but it didn’t end there.

We closed down Participation Row Sunday and got everything packed away faster than any year before. We all gathered around to give a final thank you to all the volunteers hard work, and then they snuck one in on me. Without me knowing they had taken another one of the LOCKN’ posters around to be signed by all the headliners, but this one wasn’t for the auction. This one was to thank me for 5 years of Team Leading LOCKN’. Me? Like, for real? On several occasions, I just left it laying around as I was finishing up and getting ready go rage that Bobby and the Avetts set. Finally, someone said “dude, do you know what this is worth? Go lock it up man.”

I eventually locked it up, and yeah… I raged the shit out of that last set with almost our entire team still there together. The next morning me and my poster started that ride home and I began the process of decompressing from nothing short of a spiritual experience. Every LOCKN’ comes with friends new and old. This year particularly had a pretty new team that I hadn’t worked with much. You start to think about the next time you’ll get to see some of them, and maybe plan to borrow one of their couches on an upcoming tour. I thought about all the volunteers we’ve had over the years and the amazing things that so many of them are doing now.At one point I even thought about Bill Faas, a HeadCount volunteer that passed away early last year. He always suggested to me that the Disco Biscuits should play Lockn’ late night; like I have a say in the matter. Not taking credit, but it happened and I assume Bill was on the rail one way or another.

Eventually I had to deal with that poster and the thought of “do you know what this is worth?” Of course I know what it is worth. You see, I know the true “cost” of this poster. Aside from the poster and supplies, there is so much that goes into every single one of those signatures. Multiple communications with artist reps, handlers, tour managers, etc. just to get the OK to sign it. Then there is the act of tracking them down because it doesn’t matter how well you plan a meet up at a festival, it will get messed up. Also keep in mind that logistics and handling of a piece of paper in the hellscape of dust, weather, wooks, and other obstacles that is the typical festival. The truth is that artists want to do what they can to support HeadCount and all of the Participation Row NPOs, but why is that? It is because we have worked our asses off to earn that credibility. The NPOs the lovely Laurie Lenninger brings in each year are amazing organizations doing phenomenal work with even more exceptional people doing it. Then there is all of that HeadCount street cred. For over ten years we’ve worked thousands of concerts, events, and festivals to prove our worth. HeadCount has earned its cred not because of our tables and clipboards, but because those beautiful souls behind them and all the hard work they do.

So to everyone that has ever won one of our auctions or raffles that might be curious about “what this thing is really worth?” It’s fucking priceless… #MyVolunteerJobPaysTheMost