Kids: 1, Magic City Blues: 0 in game of tug-of-war

2014-08-20T16:30:00Z 2014-08-21T06:18:04Z Kids: 1, Magic City Blues: 0 in game of tug-of-warBy JACI WEBB The Billings Gazette

It took 10 kids to beat Magic City Blues founder Tim Goodridge and his teammate Erin Hatzell of Cape Air at tug of war.

The contest pitted Goodridge and Hatzell, an MCB sponsor, against students attending the last few days of Adventure Camp through Billings Parks and Recreation. The competition was Goodridge’s way of distributing a $2,000 check for scholarships to help low-income students take camps next summer. Winner take all.

Selling spaces for $10 in a VIP parking area at MCB at South Park on Aug. 9 and 10 generated $1,600 and Goodridge kicked in another $400 from the money he raises for Perfect Pitch, a nonprofit he established to raise money for local school music programs.

“I’m surprised you grownups didn’t win tug of war,” said Maddie, one of the campers.

“Man, you kids are strong,” Goodridge said. “It only took 10 kids to dust us.”

Mike Whitaker, director of Parks and Recreation, said 150 to 200 kids apply for scholarships to attend camps during the summer. The scholarships pay half of the camp fee.

The Adventure Camp had 32 students canoeing at the Audubon Conservation Education Center and catching turtles Wednesday morning. The camp is the most popular offering through the city. When one of the campers saw a turtle, he asked if it was real.

“You know the camp is popular when you can’t even get on the wait list because that’s full,” Whitaker said. “Kids get an appreciation of nature through this camp. You can’t really appreciate the outdoors unless you are outdoors.”

Kory Thomson, recreation superintendent, said more than 1,000 students took camps through Parks and Recreation this summer.

“Between our tennis lessons and sports camps and all the other camps, we had 11 full weeks of camp this summer,” Thomson said.

Goodridge said he was happy to give back to the community this year in a new way. Perfect Pitch has been purchasing instruments for low-income students since MCB began in 2001.

Crowds were strong at this year’s MCB with 8,000 to 10,000 people taking in three days of music.

Paid attendance was bigger at the Aug. 8 show on Montana Avenue, featuring headliner Jonny Lang. But there may have been bigger audiences on Aug. 9 and 10, because Goodridge said he gave out 500 free tickets to the South Side community.

“All of the houses around South Park were having barbecues and family parties,” Goodridge said. “That was just great to see.”

Children 11 and younger were admitted to the weekend shows at South Park for free, and Goodridge expects more families with young children to participate in coming years.

“We’re just excited how everything worked out so well at South Park,” Goodridge said. “We’re still committed to Montana Avenue for the Friday night show. We like both places.”

In coming years, Goodridge expects the music festival to grow in new ways, perhaps with more activities and vendors.

“I’m going to let it grow organically. Add a few things here and there. One of the things I heard people say this year was, ‘I didn’t really know why you wanted to move down to South Park. Now I know.’”

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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