By Cole Waterman, Mlive Crime Reporter.
To view the original article visit Mlive.
BAY CITY, MI — Newly designated as an official nonprofit, the Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival is hosting a throwback beach party at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bangor Township.
The event, featuring an Americana cookout, a mural painting competition, sand castle building, volleyball and other beach-themed activities, is Saturday, July 9. The event also features live music from the Kickstand Band, Shady Groves, and Valentiger, whose sounds are all conducive to the summer and sand vibe.
The event is sponsored by Graff Chevrolet and Jack’s Bicycle Shop.
Festival founder and director Alan J. LaFave took a few moments to answer some questions about the event:
MLive: Where did the idea for this beach party come from?
AL: We were planning a fundraising event for last summer, but about 60 days out from the planned event date, we just didn’t feel like we were far enough along to execute it properly. We ultimately decided to push it to next year. In the meantime, another group decided to do a similar type event for this summer, so we needed to come up with something different, something fresh. It’s important for us not to duplicate what’s already happening in the community.
And for the last couple summers I have been riding my bike out to the Bay City State Park and beyond and noticed how great the beach has been looking. The muck is virtually gone. This beach was a regular hangout for me when I was in my teens, so it brings back great memories. I pitched the idea of a beachside Hell’s Half Mile event to our group as something completely different from what we have done in the past. The idea we developed as a team was a good, old-fashion beach party, like the kind you would see in the old 1960s films like “Beach Blanket Bingo” and “Muscle Beach Party”. Our version of it, anyway.
MLIVE: What are some of the activities that will be present?
AL: The cool thing about what we’re planning is that if you can come out and just chill, or you can join in some activities. The event is from 5-10 p.m. and we have music playing the entire time, including three bands with summer sun-drenched-style music, including the Kickstand Band, Shady Groves, and Valentiger. Outside of the entertainment, we’re planning an Americana cookout, a mini volleyball tournament, a half-mile beach race, Frisbee and other games. There’s even a sandcastle building competition for adults and kids, plus a few other surprises.
MLIVE: Where can tickets be purchased and what comes with the ticket price?
AL: Because it’s a bit of trek out to the beach from the parking lot, we’re currently asking people to purchase their tickets in advance online through Eventbrite, which you can find through our website or our Facebook event. Tickets to the event are just $10, but you are required to have a DNR Recreation Passport to enter the park. They are available for purchase at the park but most people buy them when they renew their license tabs. We also have a great Americana cookout, which includes a burger, beef or vegan, plus grilled corn on the cob and side. Drinks will also be sold at the event.
MLive: Is this replacing or in addition to the Unity Park event held the last two years?
AL: So, what we did was shifted the date for the summer party we usually have at Unity Park. The format is the same, but that event will be Aug. 5 and include our “launch” event where we disclose the films and bands for this year’s festival. This new beach party is the week the Unity Park event usually takes place. It’s just a shift of events, really.
MLive: Is there anything attendees are asked not to bring (kids younger than a certain age, their own booze, etc.)?
AL: Attendees still have to follow all the State Park rules, including no outside alcohol. We’ve applied for a liquor license for the event and will likely have beer available for purchase. Kids are welcome, but need to be watched by their parents. We’ll have volunteers running the activities, but they won’t be responsible for watching the kids.
MLive: How is planning Hell’s Half Mile’s 11th year coming along in general?
AL: We’re in the thick of planning right now. We start right after the festival ends and keep moving. We have most of the bands locked for the music side and we’re just about ready to make some of the film selections and invite guest filmmakers and so forth. People should join us Aug. 5 in Unity Park in downtown Bay City for a preview of what’s to come this fall.
MLive: On the nonprofit side, what changes for HHM with this new status? Also, what does it mean to have the official nonprofit distinction for the festival?
AL: As of the end of April, Hell’s Half Mile Events is the newest nonprofit arts group in Bay County. We have been under the umbrella of the Bay Arts Council for the past 10 years and they have been a great organization to work with. Now that we’re on our own, we will first and foremost concentrate on growing the festival and secondly on bringing more cinema and music to Bay City, as well as other alternative entertainment cultural events.
Again, we’re all about bringing new things to our community and not duplicating what is already available. This is a big deal for our group and hopefully for the community. The age groups that attend our festival the most are millennials and baby boomers. Both demographics are strongly represented and that becomes an effective tool in attracting or retaining young audiences in our community, while at the same time not leaving the older audiences behind.
MLive recently wrote an article on how millennials are skipping out on the Great Lakes Bay art scene. I assure you, that’s not the case with Hell’s Half Mile. I think it can be directly attributed to our strong focus on various indie rock genres, and that we take chances with unknown filmmakers who are amazing storytellers. We’re looking forward to our future contributions to our community.