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Welcome to the first edition of Ask Cory! This is a chance for you to submit any question anonymously, whether it’s about the volunteer program, ArtsQuest programming, or even me personally. This month’s answers have been transcribed so that you can read through them if you can’t access the video. The link to submit a question of your own is here: https://fest.formstack.com/forms/ask_cory_volunteer_submissions

Any really early bird thoughts of Fest happening this year, at least in a limited capacity?
At the moment I can’t say too much, as plans for Musikfest 2021 are still tentative and confidential, but I can say that we’re planning ambitious things for this summer. The best case scenario is a mix of what we did last year and what we’ll hopefully return to in 2022. It’ll be a model that inches closer to the festival we love and recognize. Worst case scenario is that we’ll repeat what we did last year, with a few live shows, the food trucks in the PNC Plaza parking lot, and most content streamed online. Stay tuned for more information as plans are finalized!

What is the craziest Musikfest story you can share?
One of my favorite stories: I had to call a volunteer to ask if he’d come in and cover an extra shift. I call him up and I get his voicemail, so I say: “Hey so-and-so, this is Cory from ArtsQuest—how the heck are ya? Anyway…” Courtney, who was in the trailer with me, starts laughing manically, and that makes me laugh! I’m still on the phone leaving a voicemail and it gets to a point where I have to say: “Hey man, I have to call you back.” I hang up and I ask Courtney: “What’s the deal?”

“Who says ‘how the heck are ya’ on a voicemail?” She says, “They can’t answer!”

I gave him a called back and left a second voicemail, saying “Hey, sorry about that. Here’s what I wanted to ask you.”

He calls me back later and thankfully was about to take the extra shift, which helped everyone out. But he added: “You know, whatever you guys are smoking down there, you should’ve offered to share some with me.”

To which I replied: “The only thing we’re smoking down here is hard work.” So that made Courtney laugh again, because who says things like? The answer is, of course—I do. I say things like that.

Another thing I remember from Musikfest 2019 is the Zinzenplatz beer truck. I spent a lot of my time there; whenever I think about filling in for volunteer positions, it was typically at the Zinzenplatz beer truck. Anyone who worked that position remembers it wasn’t a traditional beer truck—it was an ambulance that had been retrofitted to serve beer. I don’t know what the deal was, but no matter what you did the beers would foam from the tap. If the kegs were full, the truck was ice cold, it didn’t matter. When you have a beer like Miller Lite, which foams even in the best of circumstances, you’re sitting there and wasting half the product. You hold a mug sideways and let the foam hit the trough and hope for the best!

Some nights it was really crazy there. Zinzenplatz was programed to be the “party band area,” something that would draw people to the edge of the festival. One night I had a mug mix up. I was putting mugs down on the table in front of me, and someone who wasn’t paying attention grabbed the first mug in front of them and walked away. So I pass a mug to someone else and he said: “That’s not my mug.”

I was like: “What do you mean that’s not your mug?”

Someone just walked off with this guy’s mug! It was one of the light up 2019 versions so he had probably just bought it that day. Courtney was there, though I can’t remember if she heard what was happening and came over or if I waved her over. She worked with Val to get the guest a new mug for free, and then he also walked away with the mug this other person didn’t care about losing. This isn’t the only story I have of Courtney bailing my [posterior] out, there are plenty of those. Something that makes me feel icky nowadays because of COVID is thinking about sharing glasses—having a mug mix up like that seems even weirder these days.

That beer truck, man—it was busy. I remember the night that it was the Blink 182 tribute band, that was a rough night with a constant line. The first hour of the show they played Blink 182’s most popular songs then went on a twenty minute break and came back for a second set. They start playing the first song and I realize: oh, they already played this. It was a super popular one so I didn’t think anything of it. But then they play the second song and that’s also a repeat. By the time they hit the third song I realize what they’re doing is they’re playing the same set twice, so it’s the same hour’s worth of songs played two times in a row. I’m pouring beer and I’m like: “nooooooooo! Play something different, please!” That night tried to break me.

I don’t have a ton from Musikfest 2020. It’s because it was a smaller event so there wasn’t as much opportunity for super insane stories. I know I’ll have plenty more stories moving forward.

Did you ever hide from a volunteer?
That’s a super funny question. It makes me feel like someone was aggressively looking for me at one point and couldn’t find me, which does make me a bit nervous. They do say that a Cory that doesn’t want to be found is the most dangerous game.

The answer is no, I don’t hide from volunteers. The only thing I can think of is this past Christkindlmarkt (2020), I would go into the VC to work on emails a lot because my time at CKM was my office time. Mary Lou Straka loved roasting me for that but I really did have emails to work on! In that Ops HQ area in the corner of the VC, the spot I would sit in was clearly visible from the opening into that area. If I was trying to hide from you guys, I wasn’t doing a very good job of it. Plenty of people saw me and they did stop to talk to me, so it wasn’t a very successful hiding strategy if that’s what I was trying—and I certainly wasn’t trying!

What I will say is that I’m a very introverted person; I’m quiet and shy, and it takes me a while to open up to people. When I’m working events like Christkindlmarkt or Musikfest where it’s just a ton of people all the time (whether it’s volunteers or guests) it can feel like overload. I do take some moments to myself to walk away and be peace in a quiet area. Examples are during regular Christkindlmarkt I’d go from Tent 1 to Tent 3 and use the back area where vendors park to get between the tents quickly. But I’d be very slow about my walk from Tent 1 to Tent 3 and that would give me the time I needed to recharge. During Musikfest 2019, I’d go behind the food vendors at Volksplatz and sit along the creek there and take a moment to let the music wash over me, recharge, and then go back to tackle whatever I needed to do head on.

Short answer is: no, I don’t hide from volunteers. But every once and a while I do need a second to myself and I steal those when I can.

How much Lehigh pizza do you eat?
When it’s a regular Musikfest, I eat nothing but Lehigh Pizza. It’s so much. Pizza is one of my favorite things to eat. After Musikfest 2019 I couldn’t touch the stuff all throughout August and September—I think it was November when I finally touched a slice of pizza again. It’s really hard to get me to hate pizza but Musikfest certainly does that.

Without [Musikfest], I do order Lehigh for lunch when I’m at my office in the Banana Factory. It’s a quick and easy thing when I didn’t pack something for that day. We’re getting to the point where they’ll recognize me when I come in, like: “Hey man, how are you?”
Body brought to you by Lehigh Pizza, I guess!

What do you miss the most about Courtney?
There’s two ways this could go. Either Courtney wrote this question or someone who hates me and misses her wrote it, and hey man—I can’t argue with you.

What I will say about the Three C’s in general is that we really got along. We were friends as well as coworkers and that’s not just me bring corny. I think anyone who worked with us over the course of 2019 and early 2020 recognized how well we all worked together. Things were just really efficient. One of the things were heard during Musikfest 2019 was that it was one of the best staffed Musikfests we’ve ever had—we tried to stay ahead of coverage, call extra people in if we could—and that’s a result of us working really well together. We knew exactly what our strengths were and what we could all do at any given time.

I miss having that camaraderie. I miss being able to just turn around to tell Coryna a joke, or if I get and email from a name I don’t recognize I could ask them “do you know this name? Because I’m not quite sure who it’s from.” Stuff like that. I think because there’s less programming to work on (due to COVID), I forget that I’m juggling three different jobs. This would typically be a thing that three people do together, and as we ramp up to something that more closely resembles normal I’m starting to notice that more and more.

It’s not just missing the fact that I have a team to help me with stuff, but also that we really were friends. I miss having that sense that we knew what we were thinking just by looking at each other. That’s hard to replace, hard to find, and I’m grateful for the time that we did have together. I still talk to Coryna and Courtney and we still hang out from time to time! So it’s not like that friendship just disappeared, but it’s not part of my work life anymore necessarily and that can be kind of a sad thing. But, I’m trying my best and I will have a team again in the future! Hopefully I’ll be able to create a group that is just as good as the Three C’s.