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Day of the deadline

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Employment Opportunity: One of Missoula’s most beloved annual cultural festivals is seeking a part-time volunteer coordinator. The right candidate is self-motivated, skilled at managing artists and performers and works well with others. Fund-raising experience and familiarity with processions of walking skeletons, souls and other spirits from the netherworld a plus.

If the Festival of the Dead doesn’t find a new coordinator soon, the festival itself might end up in the graveyard.

After three years of coordinating Missoula’s version of the Mexican holiday El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, Kay Grissom-Kiely is stepping down from that role. Her departure has opened a leadership void that’s yet to be filled, and deadlines for organizing the event and kicking off the necessary fund-raising efforts are fast approaching.

“Right now the planning isn’t taking place,” Grissom-Kiely says.

There’s about $200 left in the pot from last year’s festival, but about $6,000 more needs to be raised between now and Nov. 2, the day of the festival. But performers, musicians and artists need to be lined up before fund-raising efforts can even begin.

“By May or June that all has to be done,” Grissom-Kiely says.

The prospect of the festival’s demise is troubling to Bev Glueckert, a local artist and the festival’s co-founder.

“I think the Festival of the Dead has become a Missoula tradition,” says Glueckert. “It’s hard to find people who are willing to put their heart and soul into something and can find the time to do it.”

The Festival of the Dead isn’t just a one-day parade and party. Community workshops, art exhibitions and cultural events begin in mid-October and carry on into November–all geared toward educating Missoulians about one of Mexico’s most important traditions.

But all that could come to an end one year shy of the Festival’s 15th anniversary.

“It just kills me to think that way,” Grissom-Kiely says. “But we need someone to step up to the plate in the next couple of months.”

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