Brayden Williams high-fives a colourful stilt walker during the 2015 CentreFest Street Performer Festival in Red Deer. (Advocate file photo).

‘Benefit on the Bridge’ planned in Red Deer to support Centrefest

Organizer hopes to raise at least $7,000 at May 26 event

The Polyjesters will rock the Benefit on the Bridge fundraiser on May 26 for this summer’s Centrefest.

Hot of the heels of a successful “Battle of the Buskers,” which raised $6,000 last month towards the festival, Centrefest organizer Janice Shimek is co-ordinating the third-annual bridge benefit. She hopes to raise at least an additional $7,000 from ticket sales for the 2018 street performer’s festival.

On the recommendation of local busker Flying Bob, she’s booked the versatile Carstairs band The Polyjesters to perform at the 7 p.m. to midnight event on the CP Rail pedestrian bridge near Bower Ponds.

The band will play an energetic mix of covers and original tunes, and Shimek believes a good time will be had by anyone who purchases a $35 ticket.

Tables and chairs will be set up on the bridge, there will be a dance floor, a cash bar and food trucks. Shimek hopes Central Albertans will come in droves, since there likely won’t be a bridge benefit next year, since the City of Red Deer will be repainting the structure that spans the Red Deer River.

Centrefest is scheduled for July 28 and 29 in downtown Red Deer.

Shimek has already booked six international circle performers and four roving acts — which will be revealed closer to the festival.

Meanwhile, she’s trying to raise enough money to ensure Centrefest can go on this year. The overall budget is $225,000. Taking away donations in kind, that means $140,000 in cash is needed to pay the performers.

Besides the fundraising she’s done, Shimek has so far received $45,000 in provincial and municipal grants — which means there’s still a long way to go to raise the total needed.

She’s challenging 100 local businesses to donate $250 each, because this is a more manageable amount, in this recovering economy, than hitting up a few businesses for a large contribution.

Shimek admitted it’s been hard fundraising, but she believes Red Deer-area residents and businesses will come through — because everybody loves Centrefest.

Tickets to the Bridge on the Benefit are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

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