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Magpie Foundation hosting Renaissance Faire

Not only will area residents have the opportunity to attend a family-friendly event at this week’s Magpie Foundation Renaissance Faire at the Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks, but 100 percent of ticket sales will be donated and be used for specific projects aimed to help the living conditions of honorably discharged veterans.

The first fundraiser for the foundation, the Renaissance Faire, is scheduled for Saturday, September 30, and Sunday, October 1, from 10 a.m. to sunset at the Gallatin River Overlook Picnic Area.

According to Magpie Foundation CEO Natasha Bivens, all vendors are local small business merchants and performers.

“Our budget for this event is funded by local businesses. We have no corporate sponsors. We want to showcase these businesses and performers at our event to encourage all the visitors to buy local,” Bivens said.

Bivens started the Magpie Foundation, a 501(c)(3) Montana public benefit corporation, with her daughters Dru Bolender and Cage Cluff, who she said grew up with a Navy Chief stepfather and have been volunteering in military community since 2012. Cluff would marry a Navy sailor, and after he was honorably discharged, they moved to the east coast. “After my husband retired from the Navy, he, Dru and I moved to Montana. This geographic divide between me and my girls did not stop us from finding a way to make a difference in the lives of military families,” Bivens said.

After moving to Montana, Bivens said they knew a bridge between agencies and veterans was needed, but said to make a real difference required something practical and money.

“We started the foundation to raise the money required for our projects, but we didn’t want to just hand money to people. We decided to supplement what Montana veterans have saved up so they can have a boost on a project while providing for themselves. We saw that many veterans’ living conditions were very low (no running water, no septic, no power, few resources) and knew that on top of struggling with other issues such as PTSD and disabilities; those veterans would probably never be able to afford to improve their basic lives without help. We know improving basic living conditions has an immediate and direct impact on a veteran’s quality of life and decided to take that bull by the horns,” Bivens said.

For example, Bivens said when a veteran desperately needs a septic system but has only been able to save up to $1,000 for the $5,000 job, the Magpie Foundation raises funds at their events and uses them to supplement the veteran’s savings.

“We also work directly with local contractors to arrange for the permits and other things necessary to get the job done. Our foundation uses funds for basic infrastructure projects such as septic, solar, insulation, firewood, and electrical systems, but that’s not all we do. We also have raised funds for high school scholarships to encourage graduating seniors to select a career they want and get the training they need to be successful,” Bivens said.

Organizers not only want the faire to be fun for the community, but they also want to showcase community assets, including local merchants, their handmade crafts and merchandise, and local performers.

The trio has also been using technology and social media platforms to communicate and organize events, which bridged the geographical gap.

The idea for the faire came from Cluff, who, while living in Maryland, saw how popular the events were and could be a fun way to raise money for their non-profit projects.

Bivens said they have also been fortunate to find local spontaneous volunteers who love renaissance faires and are excited to help us with the event.

This year’s event will include the Sons of Odin from Billings battling in costume and the Dark Art Collective with mermaid and fairy characters, as well as aerial arts and fire arts.

Bivens said the Mead will be provided by Valhalla Meadery and Hidden Legends Winery, Seven Hammers Forge will have local blacksmithing, and Wild Root Staff & Swords and Mountain Mudder Ceramix will have wooden swords and walking sticks.

Because the State Park cannot have horses on the grass, Bivens said they will not have jousting this year, but they are working on remedying that for future events.

“We have confirmed a myriad of performers, character actors, and vendors all in costume, and the food vendors will be awesome. We will also have several photo-op areas, like the Throne of Destiny, where visitors can take pictures of our handmade creations. We are working on providing axe throwing and archery, and there will be other fun games and prizes for children throughout the venue on both days,” Bivens said.

Organizers are listing vendors and other details for the event on their website at http://www.magpierenfaire.org and on social media (Magpie Renaissance Faire on Facebook and Instagram).

“We want this event to be a great end-of-summer family event that helps the small businesses in our community get their name out while providing funding for our purpose. Instead of corporate sponsors, we showcase local businesses and talent. We hope you can come to the fair and see for yourself,” Bivens said.

 
 
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