Essendon and Geelong have officially launched the 2020 Powercor Country Festival, announcing an exciting new initiative to recognise the selfless work of regional volunteers.

In partnership with The Weekly Times, and proudly supported by Powercor, the inaugural Heart Volunteer Awards will honour dedicated volunteers across four categories, including sport, community, emergency responders and environment.

The Heart Volunteer Award winners will be featured in a special Powercor Country Festival wrap-around edition of The Weekly Times on Wednesday, May 6 and will also be honoured at the blockbuster game between Essendon and Geelong on May 9 at the MCG.

Members of the public can nominate volunteers for the awards online, To nominate a worthy volunteer, click here.

The dedicated volunteers will be honoured across the four categories below, reflecting the important roles volunteers play in our communities.

SPORT: Spotlight on volunteer coaches, umpires, committee members, fundraisers, working-bee regulars and other helpers at all rural and regional sporting clubs.

COMMUNITY: Celebrating people who work to run community halls, local government groups, elderly support networks, community events, youth groups.

COLES EMERGENCY RESPONDERS: Honouring people who devote time to emergency response organisations.

ENVIRONMENT: Giving thanks to the landcare groups, urban clean-up, riparian protection, and community garden volunteers who take care of our towns and regional areas.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Powercor Country Festival will transform Yarra Park at the blockbuster game in May, bringing the country to the city.

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The festival will include farmers market stalls, live performances from country music artists, animal farms, a live working dog display, food trucks and the recently announced Thank You BBQ, supported by Coles.

CFA volunteers will also receive free tickets to the game, the opportunity to unfurl the Australian flag on the MCG prior to the bounce and a special half-time lap of honour.

Click here to purchase tickets to the 2020 Powercor Country Festival game.