Buck Creek Festival brings in money for charity

This year’s Buck Creek Festival smashed last year’s attendance record by more than 5,000 people, said festival chairperson Jim Wathen.

Although organizers don’t know exactly how many people attended, Wathen said the attendance was more than 20,000 – much higher than last year’s then-record of 15,000.

The festival raised approximately $17,600 for its three major charities, SafeHouse of Shelby County, the American Cancer Society and the Helena Kiwanis Club. Money was also given to Helena Police Explorers, Helena Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Helena United Methodist Church, Helena Public Library, Helena Amphitheater Park Playground, Helena Civitans and Helena schools.

More than 1,300 ducks raced down Buck Creek to raise money for SafeHouse.

Wathen said the festival, held May 8-9, turned out well in spite of sponsorship problems. He said because of the down economy, organizers didn’t receive the sponsorship money until just before the festival.

“We pulled it off in grand style,” he said. “We were determined to have the festival, whether we had the money or not. Nobody knows the difference, whether we spent a lot of money or a little money.”

The economy actually was a boon for the festival because people were on the lookout for cheap, fun events, Wathen said.

“There were a lot of people at the festival enjoying the day, and that’s the dream goal of the festival,” he said.

Mother Nature also showed some kindness, Wathen said.

“We always ask that Mother Nature stay away from the festival, and she stayed away until five minutes before it was over on Saturday night,” he said. “The weather was outstanding.”

Planning for next year’s festival will begin in September. Those who want to get involved can go to Buckcreekfestival.com.