Robert Reed and Kim Deaton spent the past weekend at the "Admin Tent," selling T-shirts and posters, answering questions and helping the artists go to the bathroom.
"If an artist is here alone, we check on them every couple of hours," Deaton said. "We watch the booth so they can get something to eat or do anything else they have to do."
The festival is a volunteer-driven enterprise. Reed and Deaton certainly don't do all of the work themselves, but both have histories of putting in long hours.
"It's been at least 20 years," Reed said, "maybe more."
Early in their service, they worked the Sunday morning session, a quiet time to drink coffee, read the newspaper and chat with the artists before church let out.
The following years brought increased responsibility. Now, they lead a team of 16 volunteers at the Admin Tent.
Their preparations began about a month ago, when they started lining up those volunteers
Here are Deaton's rules for Admin Tent workers: "No smokin', no dippin', no cussin', no divas."
Volunteers are usually easy to find.
"They get their feelings hurt if you don't call them," Deaton said. "We have some who do it and do it and do it, and we think, they need a break.
"Then they call and say, 'Why didn't you call me?'"
Every successful enterprise needs a leader, and that's Reed in the Admin Tent.
"He's the Head Tent Lady," Deaton said.
"I wish you wouldn't emphasize that," Reed said.
As one of her legacies, Tina Lutz, former festival director, named the Admin Tent workers "Tent Ladies." She gave them name tags saying such, and the tradition endured.
"We have other male Tent Ladies, too," Deaton said. "I'm second Tent Lady. What do you call that? I'm Assistant Tent Lady."
Kit Stafford, director of the GumTree Museum of Art, is serving her first year as festival director. Reed expected the weekend to take its toll on Stafford, but that's part of GumTree.
"She'll do great, but she'll be exhausted. It's hard to keep a smile on your face for a whole weekend," Reed said. "We try to smile and be nice, too, but we're not in charge of the whole thing. I wouldn't want her job."
Today's work for Reed and Deaton is as much about getting ready for next year, as it is about putting this year's festival in the books.
Posters and T-shirts go unsold, and there are tables and decorations to put away. For open-to-close volunteers like the two top Tent Ladies, heavy lifting is part of the festival experience.
"We want to keep up with everything from one year to the next," Deaton said. "You have to store stuff so you know how to find it when you need it. That's the hard part. I try to hide it."
Compared to the work that comes before it, today shouldn't be much of a problem.
If you're interested in helping with any of the work at the 41st GumTree Festival, call (662) 844-2787. Deaton said volunteers get a sense of satisfaction, and something else.
"Give us four hours of your time," she said, "and we'll give you a T-shirt."
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or email@example.com.