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Septemberfest to bring derby fun to streets of Helena

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A soapbox derby will take to the streets of Helena on Sept. 25.

Montana’s version of the fast and (perhaps not-so) furious will be coming to downtown Helena on Sept. 25 as the first-ever derby takes to the streets.

Downtown Helena Inc. and Point S Tire & Auto on Wednesday announced Septemberfest, which they hope rolls over into an annual event.

Mike Rooney, operations director for Downtown Helena Inc., said they were planning on having an Octoberfest, but learned that Point S was going to have a derby and decided to combine the two.

“We’re excited,” he said.

Lisa Hahn of Point S said it’s a perfect event for the community.

“We are all pretty stoked about it,” she said.

Rooney said he’d be happy if there were about 15 entries. 

Hahn was even more optimistic.

“I hope everybody enters,” she said.

And that includes Point S, which is owned by her brother, Nick Fox, and her father, Bob.

“How could we not?” Hahn said. “It just sounds fun.”

Rooney said the event is not affiliated with the Soap Box Derby, which had its 83rd year in Akron, Ohio, on July 25. It is now known as the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby.

“This is something we are just doing ourselves,” he said.

The course will start on Cruse Avenue, next to the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce, then rolls down 6th Avenue to end at Last Chance Gulch.

Rooney said organizers were taking every precaution to have a safe event.

Hahn said some other locations were considered, but added the Chamber of Commerce and gulch are in the heart of Helena.

The event will be 3-8 p.m. on Last Chance Gulch and includes live music, food and beer. Vehicles must have one driver, and up to two pushers.

The vehicles can be no more than 4 feet wide, 5 feet tall, and 10 feet long. They can weigh no more than 200 pounds, excluding the driver.

Vehicles must have fully functioning brakes and steering. Braking with feet is prohibited. Brakes can’t be on the steering axle and must be connected to and operate at least two of the wheels.

Prefab vehicles or modified prefab vehicles are prohibited.

Registration begins Sept. 1 and the event is free. 

According to the schedule, the racing begins at 3 p.m. The beer garden opens at 4 p.m. in Constitution Park. Live music with Goldy Vox is 5:30 p.m.

The award ceremony is 6:30 p.m. Prizes include the fastest car, funniest car and best-designed car.

Food trucks include Bad Betty’s BBQ, Missionary Food Truck, Mountain Berry Bowls and Pink Patties.

Sponsors are still being sought. Proof Marketing has helped with branding the event, Hahn said.

A website is expected to be running soon. For more on the event, go to www.septemberfestderby.com.

Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.

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