Camping in the Mud at Helena
My son Kier and I went to the King Biscuit Festival at Helena this year and camped at the Fireman's Campground. We carried in guitars, harps, bass and keys. We even listed the Campground as a gig on our schedule. It was raining when we drove in and already slick with mud. The campground is over the levee and part of the flood plain.
After setting up camp we went to hear Pine Top Perkins and it started to pour. We got soaked so back to the campground. From then on not only did it keep raining, it kept raining harder and harder and harder. We sat under an awning with some friends and played music while the whole campground turned to mud. You can just imagine, hundreds of cars and tents packed in everywhere. You can't drive. You can't walk or the mud will suck your shoes off. We finally just went barefoot and slopped on through. We're talking about 6 to 8 inches of standing soft mud over the whole area. Except in one corner of the campground where it actually flooded and had over a foot of standing water. The next morning I saw many people tear down their tents only to find a wading pool underneath them. They were pouring the water out of the inside of the tents before they packed them up. Some people were getting towed out with four wheelers and for the ones they couldn't pull out they brought in a backhoe! I mean it was really muddy.
Fortunately, we stayed dry. In spite of continueing showers on Saturday the worst was over and we enjoyed the music at the show. Then, finally, no more rain and we're heading back to a nearly empty campground to slog through the mud barefoot, back to our tent. We were pretty tired.
The next morning we ate breakfast with our neighbors (the remaining hard core) and everyone was packing up their stuff. By the time we were ready to go their wasn't a single car or tent between us and the exit. So I fired up my 79 Cougar and off we went, sliding through the mud. We made it out without a tow. After such an eventful weekend we were glad for an uneventful trip home.
Kier came up with a new Helena Campground definition. First we have the core. That is campers who came and camped in spite of the rain but then had to leave when it all went to mud. Then he said "The hard core, that's like me and Dad, mud everywhere and we're staying anyway. But the Super Hard Core, that's these people that are driving up to the campground, seeing all the mud, and getting towed into the campground so they can set up camp." I have to agree that is the Super Hard Core.
Please, if you attended the festival and have pictures of the muddy campground or pictures of the crew (you know who I'm talking about) please send them this way so I can add them to this article. Thanks.