One of the many advantages of volunteering at the Festival is a free meal for each volunteer at each shift. This year, the catering is an unqualified success and has been provided by the Real Meat Sausage Co (http://www.ncass.org.uk/Members/49/the_real_meat_sausage_co.aspx) - I had the pasta last night, and just a cheese and pickle roll for lunch now (having had a big breakfast), but fellow volunteers are raving about the sausages and pies. We even have a specially screened-off seating area up on the balcony to ensure volunteers get some peace and quiet to sit and eat for their 30 minute break.
Volunteering is a lot of fun, with bar work the bread and butter essential activity that keeps the festival flowing. All volunteers are loaned a glass (usually from a festival gone by) and are largely free to taste as many beers as they wish (provided they don't neglect their duties and remain sufficiently compos mentis to carry out their role). When it comes to working the bar, it's almost a duty to have a taste of all of the beers on your own section, as customers will continually ask "what's that one like?". Even though I'm spending the majority of my time squirreled away in the kitchen this time around, I've still pulled a fair few pints at the busiest moments and there's a real buzz and camaraderie both with fellow bar workers and in bantering with the festival-goers.
Once upon a time, only CAMRA members could volunteer (for insurance purposes) but now anyone can ask to do a shift - having said that, it makes sense that members would be interested, as (1) it's already their passion, and (2) they will likely already have a good idea how good ale should be served. If anyone is interested, then the Membership Stall at the Festival (just outside the doors to the Main Hall) is a good place to ask during the Festival; otherwise, keep an eye on http://sussexbeerfestival.co.uk/helpout.htm or contact your local CAMRA branch.