Buck Creek Festival memorializes longtime volunteer with new stage name

Published 4:28 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – Attendees to this year’s Buck Creek Festival in Helena may have noticed the stage adorned with a new banner declaring it as the Jim McKinley Stage.

Done in honor of the late Jim McKinley, who died early this year on May 24, the stage’s naming served as a tribute to someone who had played a pivotal role in the organization and execution of the festival’s music events for years.

“As a committee we decided to rename the stage to honor Jim McKinley,” said JoAnna Harman, president of the Helena Buck Creek Festival Committee. “He was a joy to work with on the festival. His passion was helping to select the bands and setup the sound.”

McKinley first moved his family to Helena in 1988 and became a staple in the community. He was an active member of Helena United Methodist Church and served with the youth ministry as an audio-visual technician. He also led worship in a music ministry made up of guitar and vocals.

According to his obituary, McKinley’s faith and love for music also helped to inspire the Buck Creek Gospel Band.

It was McKinley’s role in the community and his experience in music, and its presentation, that led him to become an early and active member on the Helena Buck Creek Festival Committee, a role which he played for many years.

“He was in charge of booking the entertainment—all of the different bands and helping them set up,” said Meredith Burdette, McKinley’s daughter. “Our family was really honored that they chose to remember him in this way, it was a big passion of his to spend time finding the right entertainment that brought in the crowds and let the community have a good time.”

This year’s organizers couldn’t be more thankful for the example that McKinley set over the years, and they hope to continue in the years to come with his example guiding the festival forward.

“It was only fitting to honor him by naming the Helena Buck Creek Festival’s stage, the ‘Jim McKinley Stage,’” said Harman. “The previous committee members left us with big shoes to fill, and we all want to keep what they started going.