FOW Team Leaders 2022.jpg

Pictured from left are The Friends of Will team leaders Mary Alice Anderson, Aaron Young (GRSF managing director), Mary Ellen Erlandson, Sue Jensen, Tom Hoffmann, Brenda Terpstra, Paul Mundt, Sharon Grossardt, Jim Nelson, Karin and Jim Worthley.

The Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) is about to launch its 2022 summer season with almost 100 company members from all over the country arriving in Winona this week. Preparing for so many arrivals takes a lot of coordinated effort, and the festival relies annually on the dedicated and enthusiastic support of its volunteer corps, the Friends of Will.

The Friends of Will (FOW) was established in 2005 and has over 200 active volunteers. Mary Alice Anderson, Winona resident, retired school media/technology specialist and chair of The Friends of Will Steering Committee, says FOW is an integral part of GRSF with volunteers gaining a unique perspective of what it takes to put on a six-week Shakespeare Festival.

“Our volunteers meet company members from all over the country,” says Mary Alice. “They are involved in many areas of festival operations. Our distribution team visits local and regional businesses and attractions to distribute brochures and posters. Our hospitality team prepares food for the GRSF Company as they make the final push towards opening each of the shows. “Team Chariot” transport company members to and from airports and our move-in crew helps prepare our housing so folks feel welcome on their arrival in Winona. The largest number of volunteers make up our Front of House team, the “face of the festival.” They help with ushering, taking tickets, distributing playbills and assisting audience members.

Mary Alice has been volunteering since the very first year of the festival. She has seen first-hand both the sincere appreciation of company members and the satisfaction that volunteering brings to so many members of the Winona community. “One favorite memory is seeing company members excitedly running in a makeshift dining room to enjoy the delicious meals prepared by hospitality team volunteers during tech week,” she said. Front of House team members enjoy helping patrons and seeing many of them return each year.

GRSF is actively seeking volunteers to join the Friends of Will and be involved in the 2022 season. To become a Friend of Will volunteer, go to grsf.org/volunteer and complete the online registration form.

Tickets to the 2022 season are available now at grsf.org. Ticket buyers save 20 percent when purchasing a three-play season pass. The 2022 season runs June 18 through July 31, 2022.