by Gina Myers

"An Evening in the Park" promises food, beer, and wine, all for a good cause. Hatched by Tri-Cities After 6 founder Shawn MacDonald, "An Evening in the Park" is a cooperative effort between his group and Hell's Half Mile Film and Music Festival. The "no nametag networking" group sponsors monthly get-togethers throughout the tri-cities and decided it would be fun to do something a little different for August's meeting. The usually indoor event is moving outdoors and is also benefiting a local non-profit. Hell's Half Mile Film and Music Festival (HHM) has been bringing independent films and music to Downtown Bay City for four years and is looking forward to its fifth annual event scheduled to take place September 30th through October 3rd.

MacDonald is a former resident of Denver where he got to benefit from the range of things offered by that city's large arts scene. Since he has been back in Bay City and founded Tri-Cities After 6, he's been looking for ways to support the community, and helping out Hell's Half Mile seemed like a logical fit: "I was drawn to Hell's Half Mile because I've always been a fan of film and live music." He believes it's important to support events like this in the tri-cities. "Anytime you can see something like [HHM], you need to be there. If people aren't out there actively supporting these events, attending these events, and creating these events, then they will just become another part of Bay City that has died." MacDonald believes it is really up to the younger generations to support the arts locally, and he is doing his part by becoming more involved with HHM this year, from throwing this fundraiser to helping out with marketing through his design company 989 Design.

And MacDonald's help is certainly appreciated. Festival Director Alan LaFave says HHM can always use more help from financial support to volunteers. He explains, "It's a fairly inexpensive festival, but money is still needed to effectively market it, to bring in directors, writers, and actors, and to secure the event." And while LaFave says they are on par with where they have been at this time in the past, they could still use more sponsors and additional support. Sponsorships exist at many levels, from patrons to presenting sponsors, program sponsors, filmmaker reception sponsors, film sponsors, and everything in between. For more information on how to become a sponsor, click here.

In addition to food, drinks, and good conversation, attendees at "An Evening in the Park" will also have the opportunity to purchase advance all-access passes to this year's festival. The passes grant admission to all screenings and film events, to all music events, to all receptions for filmmakers and actors, and to the Thursday night street party. The passes usually cost $50, but will be available here at a discounted rate.

"An Evening in the Park" is from 5 to 8 pm on Thursday, August 12. It takes place at the Appledore/BaySail dock behind the Wenona Friendship Shell in Downtown Bay City. There is no cover charge. Tickets will be available to purchase for beer, wine, and food. For more information on Hell's Half Mile, visit For more information on Tri-Cities After 6, check out their Facebook page here.

© Gina Myers, 2010