Celebrating community

There’s something incredibly endearing about summer festivals.

Smells of sizzling hot dogs, sounds of children bouncing to and fro in inflatables and scenes of families soaking up sunshine evoke a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Buck Creek Festival May 7-8 in Helena, CityFest in Alabaster June 5 and Liberty Day scheduled for June 25-26 in Columbiana are already regular highlights of a Shelby County summer and will also be included in Alabama’s Year of Small Towns and Downtowns celebration.

“It gives people an opportunity to celebrate and spend the day with family and friends in a good family environment,” said Columbiana City Clerk Gina Antolini.

Both the Buck Creek Festival and CityFest are in their ninth years, while Liberty Day is celebrating a special milestone with its 25th anniversary.

Columbiana blocks off Main Street during Liberty Day for a variety of arts and craft vendors, as well as unique festival foods. Antolini said people will be happy to see roasted corn back on the menu and she’s particularly excited about the baked sweet potatoes.

While Liberty Day provides a true small-town environment, CityFest in Alabaster offers community with a bang.

It’s estimated more than 50,000 people showed up for the 2009 event.

Alabaster Arts Council President Adam Mosely said the council aims to immerse local residents in the arts.

“These are real hands-on activities; our kids are getting in there and painting, they’re learning different crafts,” Mosely said. “Who would have ever thought too that we’d be bringing artists like Travis Tritt to Alabama, let alone Alabaster? We’re excited to open the horizons of our community.”

This year shouldn’t disappoint with Tritt headlining and other acts like Eve 6, Pure Accident and 2BLU performing. Mosely said he also expects the kids zone to be further expanded this year.

Helena Councilwoman Cris Nelson feels the turnout of vendors for Helena’s Buck Creek is promising as well.

“We’ve pretty much got the park packed out,” Nelson said.

Planners expect upwards of 130 food and arts and craft vendors.

Nelson also said the entertainment stage looks to remain festive throughout Friday and Saturday. Eight bands are set to take the stage beginning at 10 a.m. Those bands include Ryan Hamner, Bella Ruse, M80s and Jason D. Williams.

Charities benefiting from the Buck Creek event include SafeHouse of Shelby County, the Helena Kiwanis, the American Cancer Society and the Helena Middle School band.

The band plans to host a pancake breakfast from 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. The cost is $5. SafeHouse will reap the rewards of rubber ducks purchased for the annual duck race, Kiwanis takes in funds from armbands for the kids inflatable playground and the ACS will sell tea donated by Jim N’ Nicks.

While organizers haven’t set a specific fundraising goal, they hope to overpass their expenses. Nelson said the city keeps no profit.

“If the festival itself ends up with any extra proceeds, then we’ll take that difference and dole it back out to the community through maybe our three schools, various organizations and the churches that help us out,” Nelson said. “We’re not sure if we’ll have that problem, but if we do it’s a great problem to have.”

For more information about any of these events, visit Cityofcolumbiana.com, Alabastercityfest and Buckcreekfestival.com.