By Rebecca Peng –
Having lived in Westboro his entire life, Tyler Styles has grown up with Westfest. Though he’s still in high school, Tyler’s been committed to the festival for years. “I was just a festival-goer – and then I decided I wanted to help,” he explains. It was just that simple. Tyler now manages garbage and recycling for all of Westfest.
“I love it,” says Styles. “It’s definitely not the most glamorous job, but it has to be done, right?”
Styles does everything from checking in on the needs of the street marshals to running his own small crew of environmental volunteers, all dedicated to keeping the streets spotless. “During the festival, I’m all over the place. During the day, I’m on the streets and, at night, I’m at the stage. I see it all.”
He’s at the festival from early morning to the very end of the night, when he sweeps the streets to get them ready for the next day. “It’s great. At the end of the day, I can really see what I’ve done. I walk out at the end of the night and look around and it’s like, ‘Woah!’”
Through his involvement with the festival, Styles has received more than just a sense of his hard work, he’s also gained a sense of himself. “I’ve definitely learned a lot about responsibility and my limits,” Styles admits. There’s a lot of weight on his shoulders, but also a lot of pride and excitement for the festival and the people who attend it.
“My favourite part would have to be just going down on a Saturday afternoon. There are so many people! It’s a giant block party for everyone. I get to meet up with people I haven’t seen in years. It brings people together.”
It’s also brought him together with a second family: his community of Westfest volunteers. They’re the people that keep him excited to come back. “They’re so supportive no matter what,” says Styles.
His Westfest family and his dedication to the festival has helped him branch out in many ways, from getting a job to becoming involved in the other festivals around the city.
He’s a younger member of the family, but Styles has no problems fitting in. “Being younger, they don’t always see things from my perspective, so that’s something I can give. They also bring out a different, more mature side of me.”
Although he may only see some of them for a single week, the reunion is worth the wait. “The end of the festival is definitely an emotional experience,” Styles admits. “Everyone leaving for the year – it gets me every time.”
It’s that bond that makes the festival and his volunteer family a constant in his life. “I definitely see myself getting involved with Westfest for years to come. Oh yeah. It’s one week out of my life, but I love it every time,” says Styles.