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A Feast of Hope: Bridge Bash 2016


Since 2011, people have been gathering at the bridge at Big Spring Park in Cotter to enjoy an evening of music and fellowship for a festival called Bridge Bash, which raises funds and awareness for the Food Bank of North Central Arkansas. Since 2013, the festival has been expanded to include a period of meal packing by volunteers, and each year the size and number of tents to operate in and the quantity of food prepared has increased. This year’s celebration September 24 promises to top previous years in terms of musical entertainment (Marty Stuart is performing), number of volunteers and amount of funds raised to fight hunger in the area.


Bridge Bash benefits the Food Bank of North Central Arkansas (FBNCA), located in Norfork and servicing nine regional counties and over 60 agencies, such as the Mountain Home Food Basket that feeds families in Baxter County. FBNCA accepts surplus and large food donations from corporations such as Tyson Food and bulk food donated by local producers. Thanks to food and funds donated, FBNCA ultimately provides food to over 38,000 individuals in need each year. The mission of FBNCA is to raise funds and awareness for solving regional hunger, believing that local communities can be empowered and mobilized to solve their own hunger-related problems.

With a mission statement of “building bridges from hunger to hope,” FBNCA fittingly hosts the event at the scenic Cotter Bridge at Big Creek Park on the White River. Bridge Bash begins at 10 a.m. as volunteers congregate on the bridge to stand for hope—literally, they will be standing in formation to spell out the word “hope,” an annual tradition since 2012. From standing on the bridge, volunteers will afterward fly into action.


In addition to raising funds (FBNCA hopes to raise $100,000 this year with which to provide 500,000 meals), Bridge Bash also provides a unique opportunity for the community to participate in a hands-on way by packing non-perishable meals. Many people volunteer with friends, family, coworkers or a church group and enjoy visiting and chatting as they spend an hour packing food. In 2013, the first year at Bridge Bash that volunteers prepared meals, over 40,000 were packed, and in 2014 74,000 meals were packed. Last year, over 101,000 meals were packed by 600-800 volunteers. Packing has become such an important component of Bridge Bash that The Pack Shack, a non-profit organization whose role is to pack meals, has begun partnering with FBNCA to efficiently prepare meals.


Apart from volunteering time packing, those in attendance can also participate in activities such as a 5K and kayak race. First Security Bank’s Pedal for Hunger, a 34 mile bike ride, has been postponed until spring 2017. Vendors, a benefit auction and music are another important aspect of Bridge Bash. Musical performers include Mellow Mountain Band, a Mountain Home based cover group, Kingsdown, an alternative rock group from Little Rock and Fires of October, an emerging local duo. Packing should conclude around 4:30 p.m. in time for five-time Grammy award-winning country star Marty Stuart to take the stage at 5 p.m.

Those who missed pre-registration for Bridge Bash but still wish to participate may still register and assist the day of the event. Spend the morning or afternoon donating an hour of your time preparing meals, visiting with other volunteers and enjoying live music. An hour in service will pass surprisingly quickly in this atmosphere.

Photographs provided by FBNCA

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Adria English is a professional writer and a casual artist with a penchant for doodling. She currently resides in Mountain Home, Arkansas with her husband, Garrett, their daughter, Nenive, and two black cats. By foot, drone, car and kayak, Adria enjoys exploring and experiencing the Natural State.

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