Inmates Help to Set Up Folk Festival

Joy Hollowell

Updated 2 years ago

It takes a lot of people to set up for the American Folk Festival.Since the festival began, a group of unlikely volunteers has helped in the effort.Joy Hollowell has more.=====For the three days leading up to the American Folk Festival, Ryan Fox and 16 other inmates from the Charleston Correctional Facility play a pivotal role.”Right now, we’re setting up a banner up across the road,” explains Fox. “We’re setting up chairs, setting up stages, bleachers, everything.””They do a lot of the heavy muscle stuff,” says Wody Higgins, Operations Staff for the American Folk Festival. “If you look around, a lot of us that are on the staff are a little older and not quite so great shape, so it’s great having these guys to do all that heavy pounding.”Charleston is a minimum security facility. The program is designed to re-introduce inmates to society as they finish up their time. Setting up for the folk festival is on a volunteer basis, but the work does allow inmates to take extra time off their sentences.”We have security staff and all of our staff, the crew bosses, their security is trained,” says Sam Bradeen, Building Maintenance Supervisor for the Charleston Correctional Facility.The work isn’t easy…”Hard labor, it’s mostly intensive hard labor,” says Higgins. “They’re all pretty good guys, willing to work and like to work.”Joel Lachance, one of the inmates from the Charleston Correctional Facility working at the festival ground, thinks some festival goers will be surprised to find out inmates help to set the show up. He says for him, this work is a matter of pride and giving back to the community.”Just trying to make up for the wrong that I have done,” says Lachance, “and I think I can speak for everybody else who feels probably the same way.”+++It was festival organizers who came up with the idea of using inmates from the Charleston Correctional Facility to help with set-up.Much of the fencing, chairs, and some stages and towers were all put together by the inmates.


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