(HELENA) Organizers of Helena’s annual Symphony Under the Stars say this year’s event was another success.
Crowds filled the lawn at Carroll College Saturday evening for the 16th edition of the free outdoor concert. This year’s concert, “Aretha: A Tribute,” featured soul classics from Aretha Franklin and others . The Helena Symphony brought in Broadway performer Capathia Jenkins and singer Ryan Shaw as guest vocalists.
Symphony leaders estimate between 16,000 and 17,000 people were in attendance. As has become tradition, many of them picked out their spots the day before, holding down blankets with canned food that was then donated to Helena Food Share.
Food Share leaders estimate they collected around 18,000 pounds of food this year. They will have a more exact figure on Monday, after officially weighing the donations.
Symphony Under the Stars has become one of Helena Food Share’s largest donation drives. Kim Dale, the organization’s program operation director, said it is particularly important because their donations typically slow down during the summer.
“I like it because it’s so concrete,” she said. “It’s a can of food, and if everybody brought two or three cans, it really has made a big difference at Helena Food Share collectively.”
Heidi O’Brien, Helena Food Share’s communication manager, said drives like this also provide more options for their customers. She said Food Share typically purchases food in bulk, so donated items add variety to their pantry shelves.
Leaders say they’re grateful for everyone who contributed at the concert.
“It’s one of our funnest events that we come to, because the whole crowd’s here, the whole city of Helena’s supporting us,” Dale said.
Organizers say they are already planning for next year’s Symphony Under the Stars, set for Saturday, July 18, 2020.