Volunteers prepare for Montana Folk Festival weekend


BUTTE, Mont. - Montana Folk Festival organizers expect their biggest crowd yet this weekend and want to make sure they're prepared. Operations Director Erin Olivieri offered to give NBC Montana a tour of the venue. We needed a golf cart to get around to see all the work that's going on in Uptown Butte. "We're really just getting rolling here," said Olivieri. "We've got a few days left and Friday's going to come quick on us." Olivieri showed us all the stages volunteers are building -- six main stages in all. "We've got our Broadway Stage, our Granite Stage, our Dance Stage down on East Park Street," said Olivieri. "That's probably our second biggest stage behind the original stage." Festival organizers said they're only halfway through setting up about 300 tents from East Park Street all the way up to the Original Mine Yard. "We're making sure everybody sees all of the festival that they can," said Olivieri. After four years, 800 volunteers have got it down to a science -- labeling golf carts, putting up signs and cleaning chairs. Volunteer Jim Duran said he's been assigned to a few odd jobs and there's still more to do. "This is the best music you could hope for and it's happening in my hometown, so the way I look at it is I want to contribute at least a little," said Duran. "Now today, we're building our dance floor," said Montana Folk Festival Coordinator Josh Peck. "Which is really exciting, we're getting chairs in place, we're putting all the tents up, we're really busy building scaffolding, we have a crew doing signage." Peck said he expects to see more than 100,000 people in Uptown. "We're expecting a bigger crowd than last year," said Peck. "I think it's going to be the biggest crowd we've ever seen at a folk festival, weather's going to be great, we're going to have the best turnout we've ever seen in Butte, Montana." That's why volunteers are catching a ride, taking it easy on their feet so they can be ready for opening day. It's not just Folk Festival organizers rushing to get ready. Butte businesses are busy preparing to preparing for thousands of visitors that will be in town this weekend. Workers at Park and Main Cafe in Uptown are making extras of everything -- doubling and even tripling the amount of potatoes, eggs, vegetables and meat on hand. Employees said last year Park and Main did record business during the festival, $2,000 on their busiest day. "We've been preparing with the farmer's market and we've called everybody in so we'll do what we can and make it last until one o'clock," said barista and baker Alexandria Roberts. Butte police are doing prep work of their own. The department will assign eight officers solely to the Montana Folk Festival venue this weekend. Officers will be patrolling the dance pavilion as well as the Original Mine Yard. They'll be on the lookout for disorderly conduct, underage drinking and health issues from the heat. Officers also want to remind festival-goers that pets are not allowed.