5,000 expected for Helena festival

Helena resident Judy Ellington, chairman of the Buck Creek Festival Committee, has some friendly competition in her first ever festival planning endeavor.

Her twin sister, Jan Miller of Columbus, Miss., headed up the Columbus Mainstreet Festival this past weekend which drew approximately 40,000 people to the city.

Ellington and other Helena business and city officials don’t expect 40,000 people &045; at least not the first year.

They instead hope the First Annual Buck Creek Festival will draw some 5,000 people. The festival will be held this Saturday in Helena starting at almost the crack of dawn and running until midnight.

&uot;Although the festival is the first of its kind, we are expecting a huge turnout. We hope it will grow even larger next year,&uot; she said.

The day’s events will include numerous activities. A 5K run, which starts at 8 a.m. at the Winn Dixie parking lot, will kickoff the party, Ellington said. The race will benefit the Leukemia Society and is sponsored by Dr. Charles Orlein and Roger Wilkins.

The Helena Civitans will host a Pancake Breakfast at Helena Elementary from 7 to 9 a.m.

Beginning at 10 a.m. two stages, one for children and one for the adults, will offer entertainment for the entire family. The children’s stage, located next to the Depot in Old Town Helena, will feature singers, dancers, jugglers, a karate demonstration, and a fashion show.

The adult stage, located at the Old Town Amphitheater, will include talented singers and bands including Fiddlin’ In the Parlor, The Overalls, and Lisa Simpson. The stage will also be the site of Buck Creek After Dark, starting at 6 p.m., featuring live music until midnight with performances by Turning Point and The Flames.

Other attractions include a Dino Dig on the island next to the banks of Buck Creek. The Dig, sponsored by Helena Landscape and Supply, will offer children the chance to dig for toys.

Arts and Crafts vendors will be selling numerous gifts to the public and there will be food vendors as well.

A &uot;Cajun Celebration&uot; will be held at 7 p.m. at the Village Market and Deli to honor the sponsors which include the The City of Helena, The Peoples Bank and Trust Company, Pepsi Cola and the Shelby County Reporter. Corporate sponsors include Decor and More, Helena Landscape and Supply, Supreme Beverage, Winn Dixie, Ronnie Morton, and Infusion Technologies.

In addition organizers are offering a shuttle bus for parking that will be running all day from the elementary school, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and Helena Baptist Church, all located on Alabama Highway 261.

Ellington, owner of Sisters Two Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets in Helena, said a successful Buck Creek Festival has been a goal of The Helena Business and Professional Association which is sponsoring the event. THe HBPA is made up of over 80 local businesses.

Helena Mayor Charles &uot;Sonny&uot; Penhale said the festival will offer people from throughout the area a chance to experience the city’s finer qualities.

&uot;This is a chance for people to see what Helena has to offer. These are some of the friendliest people you can find anywhere,&uot; Penhale said with a smile.

Ellington agreed and noted the event will replace the now defunct &uot;duck race&uot; event which she said has been sorely missed.

&uot;We hope this will bring the town together,&uot; she said