Volunteering – FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering at Vegfest

Where and to whom do I report?  Go to the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on Mercer Street, enter to the right of the ticket booths, and you will find the volunteer check-in area on your right.  Friday volunteers will be informally directed to a task by volunteer coordinator, Charlotte Tennessen.  Saturday and Sunday volunteers will check in at the Volunteer desk and attend orientation before Charlotte directs you to a task.

Do you have directions/map to the Seattle Center?  The Exhibition Hall is on Mercer Street, next to McCaw Hall and beneath the Pacific Northwest Ballet.  From the Seattle Center grounds, it is on the north side of the big fountain.  Please see our Vegfest Location page for a Seattle Center Map and links to directions and transportation options.

What public transportation options are available?  The Seattle Center is well served by public transportation.  See the Seattle Center’s website for transportation options.

Where can I park?  The closest parking lot is the multi-story lot between Mercer and Roy St.  On Sundays on-street parking is free.  (See the Vegfest Location page).

Will Vegetarians of Washington cover my expenses (like parking)? Sorry as a non-profit organization, we can’t afford to do that. We encourage the use of public transport and carpooling to minimize expenses.

How do I get credit for my volunteer hours?  For students, club members, and others who want credit for their volunteer hours, you will need to collect a Volunteer Hours Tracking Form at the Volunteer desk when you check in at the beginning of your first shift each day.  Then ask a Vegfest Leader, Demo Support volunteer or Sponsor to initial the form at the beginning and end of each task you are assigned. They will also have the opportunity to add comments. After your last shift each day, return to the Volunteer Check-In desk to exchange the Tracking Form for credit on a Volunteer Confirmation form provided by Vegetarians of Washington, or on a form provided by your organization.

I need to work at least 5 hours to fulfill a volunteer requirement, and my shift is only 4 hours. What should I do?  Come an hour early or stay an hour late.  We always have more jobs for you to do!  If you have completed your original assignment and want to volunteer more time return to the volunteer corner, and Charlotte will find a new assignment for you.  We will give credit for the hours you work.

Where do I collect the gift offered for those volunteering more than one shift? For those who have volunteered at least 8 hours, please return to the Volunteer check-in desk at the end of your last shift to request your free gift. 

Can I attend Vegfest on a different day or in the morning before my volunteer shift?  Yes. Enter through the volunteer check-in area to the right of the ticket booths.  An assistant at the desk will verify that your name is on our list and allow you to enter free of charge.  Friends and family who are not volunteering will still need to purchase tickets, and you still need to check in at the volunteer desk at the beginning of your shift as previously requested.

Is there a dress code?  Every volunteer will receive a Vegfest T-shirt to wear while volunteering.  Additionally, anyone who is going to be seen by the public should look clean and presentable: no torn or dirty clothes, and long hair must be tied back if your task involves preparing or serving food.  Ticket sellers, Greeters, and Floor Stockers will need warm clothes under their T-shirts as they will be working in drafty areas near open doors.

Can I sit down during my shift? If you are a Food Demonstrator or Ticket Seller the answer is yes. There will be a chair behind your table for you to sit down as needed.  Other roles like Chef’s Assistant, Demo Support, Greeting, and Floor Stocking are active. You may be on your feet for the entire shift.

Will I get a break during my shift?  Volunteer shifts are planned carefully to ensure that key positions are staffed at all times, so we encourage you to keep breaks to a minimum. Please use the bathroom before the start of your shift.  You should plan to take time before or after (not during) your shift to look around the event.  If you are working 8 or more hours on the same day, ask your Leader for the best time to take a break.  He or she will arrange for someone to cover your assignment for 15-20 minutes while you take your break.

What should I do about meals?  Drinking water is available (either in bottles or a pitcher) near each handwashing station. There is also a drinking fountain by the restrooms. Please do not eat while you are working at your assigned task. If you are volunteering for 8 hours or more in one day, we recommend bringing a sack lunch to eat during a break.  Plenty of free food is being served all around the Exhibition Hall, but the samples are served in small bite-sized pieces so it’s not practical to get a full meal that way.

May I help myself to food during the event?  All food at Vegfest is donated to the non-profit Vegetarians of Washington for their use during and after Vegfest.  It is not available for volunteers to take home. You may sample foods at booths before and after your shift or during a break, just like other guests.  Please do not eat while you are working at your assigned task. You may also purchase leftover perishable food items at the sale held Sunday at 5:30pm. The remaining perishable food items are donated to other non-profit organizations such as a local food bank.  Unused non-perishable foods are kept and used by Vegetarians of Washington for other events.  Do not take any whole packages or cases of food home with you unless you have paid for them.

Sunday Tear Down volunteers may take a break to collect sale items they would like to purchase and set them aside in an empty box (labeled with your name) behind the Volunteer desk.  Once all the guests have made it through the cashier line, we will make an announcement that it is time for volunteers to pay for their food purchases.

Will there be somewhere to leave my stuff?  We have minimal space at the Volunteer desk.  Because their roles require them to be up and walking all around the Exhibition Hall, Floor Stockers and Demo Support volunteers will be allowed to leave their coats there.  Other volunteers will need to take their coats with them to their work areas and store them on the back of their chairs or under a table. Volunteers must keep track of their own purses or other valuables.  The exception is during Tear Down on Sunday when we will turn the volunteer desk into a “coat check,” and all volunteers can keep their personal belongings and sale items there.

Is childcare available?  Sorry but we are unable to provide childcare, and no children aged 14 or younger are permitted in work areas.  If you would like to bring children with you to volunteer, the best role for you is Outdoor Advertising (see below).

Is there a volunteer role for kids?  Children aged 15-17 can volunteer as Food Demonstrators, Membership Bag Prep, or Greeters.  Children under age 15 who are supervised by an adult parent or teacher can do Outdoor Advertising.  Outdoor Advertisers walk around the Seattle Center grounds with signs & flyers inviting visitors to come inside and taste vegetarian food at Vegfest.

Can I volunteer with my friend(s)?  Yes.  There is a place on the Vegfest Application Form where you can list the names of friend(s) you want to volunteer with.  Your friend(s) will also need to fill out an online application with their own contact information as you did.  If you list each other’s names and request the same role and shift, you will most likely be assigned to work together during Vegfest.  It also helps if you arrive together otherwise it may be difficult to find each other inside the crowded Exhibition Hall.  That said, the volunteer coordinator still needs the flexibility to assign volunteers where they are most needed during Vegfest.  We cannot guarantee that you will be working together.

I watched the orientation video last year.  Do I need to watch it again this year?  While much of the information is the same, we are continually updating and improving our procedures.  All volunteers must take some form of training each year so that the latest information is fresh in your minds while you are volunteering. This year we have online training available for you to take before you come to volunteer. The orientation video will still be available to watch when you arrive, for those who weren’t able to take the online training beforehand.

I’m a food demonstrator. Do I need a food handler’s license?  No. Volunteers do not need a license.  Our orientation video as well as personalized instruction will cover what you need to know in order to perform your assigned task. A licensed person will be on the premises to supervise. Please ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly and put on gloves before touching any food.

I’m a vegan. Can I be assigned to prepare and serve only vegan food?  The vast majority of the food at Vegfest is vegan.  Please inform your zone leader at the event, as you are being assigned to a task, if you prefer to serve only vegan foods. They will ensure that you are assigned to serve products that do not contain milk or eggs.  The same procedure applies to volunteers with food allergies.