Volunteers give time, sweat

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When I heard Jim Wathen and Ron Holly discussing “how many steaks to buy,” I thought they were planning a jolly–good grill–out.

Turns out, I was mis-staken as the stakes they had in mind were part of the necessary basics for executing the layout for the Buck Creek Festival, May 8 and 9.

Both men have been long-time volunteers for this event-this is Wathen’s seventh year. The core committee meets ten months throughout the year in pre-planning sessions, and then convenes for the nitty–gritty intensive on Thursday before opening day.

“Each year, I say ‘never again.’” Wathen said. “But by the next year, I change my mind because it really is a tremendous amount of fun and it benefits so many.”

Holly, a.k.a. Major Dundee, oversees the vendor and sponsor booths each year and currently is hobbling about with a sprained ankle.

“No time this week to see a doctor,” he said.

Laying out the booth spaces requires the aforementioned stakes, a can of fluorescent orange spray paint and measuring tape.

“It takes an old railroad man to run this schedule,” Holly said, referring to his 33 years with the L&N Railroad.

Plenty of joking and good–natured ribbing creates and sustains the energy that gets everyone through the hours of preparation and long days during the actual festival.

Dearing Downs resident Bob Van Loan joined the BCF committee two years ago after moving here from Texas.

“We fell in love with Old Town,” he said. “First impressions are everything and the charm of Old Town knocked our socks off.”

Other committee heads identifiable by their sstaff T–shirts were Tom Lefebvre and Jack Gray, head duck wranglers; Stephanie Gray was in charge of sponsors; Mike Mason, adult beverage coordinator; and Jennifer Richards as in charge of the children’s activity area.

Bill Ginas finds and books the musical entertainment and the omnipresent Cris Nelson, roves throughout the festival, problem solving and filling in wherever needed.

Brian Peters is on hand with meteorological forecasts via his iPhone. His prognostication for the weekend was “hot and hopefully cloudy, with hit–or–miss popcorn-variety showers.”

City employee Randall Perrin, who oversees amphitheater park operations, points out that all the extra grounds improvements for the festival are also donated.

A big thank you goes to businesses who contributed materials and equipment for the event: Helena Landscaping Supply and Nursery/Greg Eddins –– supporter for five years; Vulcan Materials; USA Concrete; True Green; Minuteman Press in Alabaster –– artwork and custom signs; Pepsi – new sign for summer events; CR Management; and RCS in Pelham.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at laurabrookhart@yahoo.com.