A Volunteer’s Look Back At Feast Portland 2017


Pioneer Square the morning of Friday’s Grand Tasting—the calm before the storm. Weather was incredible that day.

Well, Feast has come and gone, and from all I’ve read and watched, as well as from my own experience, of course, it was a rousing success. Scenes from the four-day food and drink festival were plentiful on social media, and it’s no surprise that people were having a wonderful time, whether they were at one of the larger events like the Grand Tasting or the Night Market or the smaller, “fun-sized” events or classes. A good visual overview is via the #feastpdx hashtag on Instagram.

As I mentioned earlier, I attended Feast this year as a volunteer, and it was the kind of rewarding experience I had hoped for. It was a very physical experience, too—the majority of time I was on my feet for several hours straight, and it involved carrying heavy things, monitoring the physical space, or cleaning things up. My favorite part was helping the vendors with whatever they needed to make their time there as enjoyable as possible. And it goes without saying that it was fun to chat with and assist attendees. But I won’t deny that I was happy to be off my feet when my volunteer shift was over.


My recyclable glasses display technique is unstoppable.

All things considered, I would absolutely volunteer again, and would encourage you to do the same. It gave me the perspective I wanted and I certainly have a refreshed respect for the people that make the event happen on site. I like the demands that volunteering asks of you—to learn new things in a short time; to be flexible, patient, and understanding; and have physical stamina.

When I was walking around during Before Breakfast (fun-sized event), checking in with vendors, an attendee asked me what it was like to be a volunteer for Feast. I told him that it had been a positive experience, and he proceeded to ask me how one becomes a volunteer for Feast. I probably went on and on about it but he seemed entertained by my extended remix of an explanation. When it comes to volunteering for Feast, there is a process. For those who are interested, here’s the timeline:

  • Apply in late June (yes, there is an application process).
  • Wait a week or two for an acceptance email + a list of job descriptions and shift timeframes.
  • Review and submit top three choices (I was assigned to two of my choices).
  • Attend a volunteer orientation event and pick up a Feast volunteer T-shirt about a week before Feast starts.
  • Volunteer! Have fun! Eat all the things!
  • NB: hands-on classes fill up immediately, so snagging a volunteer shift for one of those is almost impossible.

One of the benefits of volunteering is that you get to check out the event while you’re there, which means you get to taste a bunch of things. I’ll post more about that side of things later this week. Spoiler: there were no food/drink duds at either event I attended.

A final thanks to the volunteer coordinators, who gave great direction and were key to making our jobs as volunteers go smoothly. You guys were awesome and my experience wouldn’t have been as good without you.

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Bridgetown Bites is written by Meg Cotner, a food loving freelance writer, editor and published author in Portland, OR.

6 Replies to “A Volunteer’s Look Back At Feast Portland 2017”

  1. Yay, Meg! I’m so glad your first Feast volunteering experience was a positive one. We really mean it when we say it would be impossible without the unstoppable talents of our volunteer team. I hope you’ll join us again!

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