After 30 years of volunteering for Fringe, Joan and Lynn Didriksen have seen the Festival change in big and small ways. But one trend they’ve noticed is a particularly fortunate one.
“It’s more organized now,” Joan laughs.
“It’s definitely more organized,” Lynn agrees.
The sisters are part of the thousand-strong team who ensure the Festival runs as smoothly as possible. Fringe Volunteers handle anything from First Aid calls to providing fringers how-to tips at Information Booths to slinging cold brews in the beer tents.
Joan started volunteering with the Fringe in 1991, and Lynn joined up the very next year. While the perks of volunteering are plentiful—both note the appeal of seeing shows—the camaraderie formed with other volunteers has kept them coming back.
“Those friends that I’ve made over the years, and how close we are,” Joan says. “We really only see each other during Fringe—we don’t see each other the rest of the year, but we’ve become really good friends.”
Their Fringe tips: try the unusual foods and browse the on-site artisans. Don’t just follow reviews—take a chance on a show that might surprise you. And if you don’t know what to do, check in with the Info Tents, or really, with any Volunteer.
“I think for somebody who has never been to Fringe, it can be quite overwhelming,” Joan says.
They also appreciate the unconventional ways some artists have found to market their shows over the years.
“I vividly remember Guys In Disguise promoting one of their plays where they were playing bingo in the beer tents,” Lynn says.
Joan now lives in Toronto, but comes back to volunteer most years. For her, Fringe truly is a destination—one that brings her back to family and friends, and gives them a Festival’s worth of opportunities to explore together.
“I see more plays when she’s in town!” Lynn laughs.