The Huckleberry Festival was just what the doctor ordered for the skatepark project now under construction at Bingen's Daubenspeck Park: A fundraising booth for the skatepark brought in more than anticipated during the annual festival.
According to Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes, there were two more major contributors as well as support from a large number of individual donors who purchased $1 raffle tickets.
Bingen City Council member Laura Mann was at the booth most of the day on Saturday and Sunday, and she said there was a lot of interest.
"It went well, and we got some nice large contributions," Mann said. "It was fun to see how the kids were willing to spend that money for the skateboard. The kids were very excited. Several hundred people came by, and we probably sold 300 tickets."
Mann added that she was gratified at the response from the public.
"There were a couple who expressed concerns about noise or proximity to the younger kids' playground, but it was amazing how many were supportive," Mann said.
Because of a shortage of funds, the Bingen skatepark was divided into two phases. Phase one is under way, but phase two was projected to wait until next summer unless additional funds could be secured.
The first phase of the skatepark calls for a structure of 3,850 square feet, and cost about $153,000. Phase two would add another 3,500 square feet and cost about $138,000.
Over the weekend of the festival, another $1,371 was brought in from raffle ticket sales and several big donations from local businesses.
For example, Beneventi's Pizza stepped up with a $500 donation, with the Huckleberry Festival Committee donating $500 as well. Also over the weekend, Insitu announced that it would match up to $5,000 of what the community donates for the new skatepark facility.
The waves of donations are helping to push the project forward mightily, but there is still a long way to go. City officials estimate that another $135,000 needs to be raised to complete phase two.
"We do not have enough to do phase two, but we're getting a nice nest egg and we'll keep plugging away," said Barnes.
Barnes added that she appreciated the enthusiasm of local kids.
"It was a lot of fun seeing the kids all excited," Barnes said. "It was a good day; there was a lot of positive feedback."
Bingen officials reported that the project took in $1,000 from the two big donations from Beneventi's and the Huckleberry Festival committee, with an additional $371 in raffle ticket sales and contributions.
"Some just put money in the jar," Mann said.
One of the hottest items being raffled was, appropriately enough, a new skateboard.
"It was really fun to see the kids buying a single raffle ticket, or coming back with a few more dollars for tickets for that skateboard," Mann explained.
There has been an impressive roster of businesses and individuals offering support to build the skatepark over recent months.
SDS Lumber Co. provided a $10,000 donation of in-kind materials and construction services, with the donation evenly split between phase one and phase two. And Klickitat County recently supplied a $20,000 Economic Development Authority grant.
Also, major support for the skatepark construction -- contributions of $500 or more -- has previously come from McCoy Holliston Insurance ($500); Hunsaker Oil ($500); the Lions Club ($500); Antiques & Oddities ($1,000); John & Jeri Mayo ($1,000); BridgeMart ($1,000); and Attorney Anthony Connors ($500). Bingen restaurant Los Reyes also has pledged $500 for the project.
Even with all the help, the city still needs to raise about $135,000 to fund phase two.
Anyone wishing to donate to the skatepark project is invited to contact Bingen City Hall at 493-2122.