HELENA — With just over a week until the Intrepid Credit Union Symphony Under the Stars returns to Helena on the campus of Carroll College, many people are very excited for the return of the storied event.
This year's theme will be Totally Awesome 80's and feature the music of David Bowie, Devo, the B-52's, and many more. People who want to reserve their spot on the lawn where the event is being held can start doing so on July 16th starting at 3 p.m. with a $5 donation, or anytime after 5 p.m. for free. People should secure their blankets with nonperishable canned goods for Helena Food Share which will be collected at the event.
The event was canceled last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and was a big blow to not just the musicians, but the community as a whole said Helena Symphony Music Director Allan R. Scott.
"To miss that audience, the sense of community, knowing how much we bring people together, having the economic impact in the community. It impacts hotels and restaurants and businesses, so many organizations link up with this event as part of their events. Just like it will be one of the culminating events for Big Sky Pride festival," said Scott. "To miss that was not so much about the music, as it was about the community impact. The impact for our region. So, it was, it was devastating."
Symphony Under the Stars is one of the largest summer events in the state, drawing upwards of 18,000 people. Historically, the event has brought in around $1 million into the economy.
As all the organizations involved that make the event a spectacle prepare for July 17th, Scott says the community outreach to this point has been incredible and expects this year to be the biggest yet.
"The limited reserve seating that we have , they went on sale 12:01 a.m. on June 1, they were effectively sold out by 1 a.m.," said Scott. "That's never happened. There are still 17,500 other free seats, but those 500 reserved seats were gone in less than an hour. That's never happened before. That's perhaps indicative that people are going to be they want to be they need to be together and want to experience this."
Alongside the music and the vendors, the event also serves as a food drive for the Helena Food Share and in 2019, the event brought nearly 20,000 pounds of food in from the local community for the non-profit to distribute. Helena Food Share Executive Director Bruce Day said food drives of this magnitude brings in a wide variety of food for them to distribute throughout the year.
"It gives our customers, the people who need help getting food, gives them some variety to pick from and it will spread out over a couple of months. In terms of things that are on the shelf that they're able to pick from," said Day.
During a press conference Wednesday morning, both Carroll College President Dr. John Cech and Scott both urged concert-goers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they plan on attending the 2021 Symphony Under the Stars.
Traditionally, the Helena Symphony commissions an artist to create a print to commemorate the event and the music the symphony will be playing. This year, Connie Bergum took her own spin on Georges Seurat's, 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte' where instead of traditional 1880's garb, those in the painting can be found wearing 1980's garb. Prints go on sale on July 13th and the limited run of 75 prints will be $25.