Annual effort helps fight hunger in North Central Arkansas
Bridge Bash — the Food Bank of North Central Arkansas’ annual event that combines fun, food-packaging and fundraising — returns this Saturday to the campus of Arkansas State University-Mountain Home.
The Food Bank hopes to collect enough donations to provide 500,000 meals and package an additional 100,000 meals throughout the day with the help of volunteers working in shifts.
“We’re excited about Saturday,” Food Bank President/CEO Jeff Quick said. “It’s early, but looking at the projections, we think we are going to hit our goals this year.”
The 2019 Bridge Bash will be the event’s ninth year. The donations and meals packaged at the previous eight Bridge Bashes have helped provide 3.8 million meals to those in need, Quick said.
“For the first time since the recession, our hunger numbers (in the Twin Lakes Area) are down. The numbers are below where it was in 2008,” he said. “We’re seeing progress, but we have a lot that can still be done.”
Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 81 degrees with a 40 percent chance of morning showers. The event will go on rain or shine, Quick said.
Many of Bridge Bash’s activities are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, with the event’s opening ceremonies scheduled for 10 a.m. on the main stage.
Admission is free, and attendees may purchase $25 VIP parking passes that will permit the bearer to park close to the Bridge Bash main stage and avoid the walk from the ASU-MH parking lots.
Meals are packaged assembly-line style in what Quick called “funnelology” — food items are dropped into a funnel to fill up food bags, which are then sealed and boxed up to be given away by area nonprofits.
Meal-packaging shifts will start at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and each shift can accommodate up to 150 volunteers. The first three shifts are already booked solid, Quick said.
“We still need some help with the last shift at 3:30 p.m.,” he said.
Attendees wishing to participate in a food-packaging shift may email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or register Saturday at one of Bridge Bash’s entrance gates.
“Stand Up for Hope” — where participants donate $25 and gather to spell out the word hope — is scheduled to be held at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the main stage. Donors can specify which local agency in the Food Bank’s nine-county service area they would like their donation to benefit.
Registration for “Bangin Chains from Hunger to Hope,” the event’s disc golf tournament, will open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and will begin play at 9 a.m. with a limit of 32 players.
The event’s car, truck and bike show will open at 9 a.m., along with a 5K walk/run and a canoe race from Cotter to Norfork. Back on the ASU-MH campus, food vendors and merchandise booths will open at 10 a.m.
The event’s silent auction will open at 10 a.m. and include items like a home theater system, a pontoon rental, season passes to the ASH-MH Performing Arts series and a fishing trip. The live auction will begin at noon and includes items like tickets to Arkansas Razorback football and basketball games and a seven-night stay in Costa Rica.
At 11 a.m., a dog costume contest will be held on the main stage and the event’s Baggo tournament will commence near the kids’ zone.
Nashville recording artist Dan Smalley headlines the musical acts at this year’s Bridge Bash. The Shreveport, La., native will take the stage at 6 p.m. and draws influences from county & western, gospel, rhythm & blues and classic rock.
Over the past decade, he has been on the road with Dwight Yoakam, Tim McGraw, Justin Moore, Billy Currington, Craig Morgan, the Randy Rogers Band, the Turnpike Troubadours and more.
Other musical acts scheduled to perform Saturday include the Cowgill Family at 11 a.m., the Daybreak Quartet and Hannah & Hannah at noon, Andy Tanas at 12:30 p.m., Patient Eyes at 2 p.m. and the Kattie Laney Project at 4:30 p.m.
All of the day’s musical acts will perform on the main stage. Performers will move inside the Vada Shied Community Development Center in the event of rain.
What is the Food Bank?
The Food Bank covers a nine-county area across northern Arkansas. Its footprint runs from Boone and Marion counties in the west to Sharp County in the east and from the Missouri state line south down to Newton County.
The Food Bank does not directly distribute food items to individuals. It instead serves as a warehouse and supplier for area food baskets, soup kitchens, backpack programs and other nonprofits.
Bridge Bash’s operating costs are covered by the event’s many sponsors, allowing the Food Bank to put all donations collected Saturday towards purchasing additional food for distribution.
“We want to give a big thank you to all the communities and sponsors that are involved in Bridge Bash. We couldn’t do this without them,” Quick said. “One hundred percent of the funds raised will go towards food, and 100 percent of that is going towards people in need in north central Arkansas. Without the generosity of our local communities and sponsors, that wouldn’t be happening.”
2019 Bridge Bash
At ASU-Mountain Home
8 a.m., 5K registration
8 a.m., Kayak race registration*
8:30 a.m., Disc golf registration
9 a.m., Car show opens
9 a.m., 5K starts
9 a.m., Kayak races start*
9 a.m., Disc golf starts
10 a.m., Opening ceremonies
10 a.m., Food/merchandise vendors open
10 a.m., Silent auction opens
10:30 a.m., Baggo tournament registration
11 a.m., Cowgill Family performs
11 a.m., Baggo tournament starts
11 a.m., Meal-packing shift #1 starts
11 a.m., Dog costume contest
Noon, Daybreak Quartet/Hannah & Hannah perform
Noon, Live auction begins
12:30 p.m., Andy Tanas performs
12:30 p.m., Meal-packing shift #2 starts
2 p.m., Patient Eyes performs
2 p.m., Meal-packing shift #3 starts
2 p.m., Silent auction ends
3 p.m., Car show awards
3:30 p.m., Meal-packing shift #4 starts
4:30 p.m. Kattie Laney Project
5:30 p.m. Stand Up for Hope
6 p.m. Dan Smalley performs
* — At Big Spring Park, Cotter
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