Story by Mederios Babb, MTN News
BOZEMAN, Mont. – People started lining up in Belgrade nearly an hour early on Saturday for the 8th Annual Digger Days fundraiser hosted by Eagle Mount.
It is often referred to as a child’s wonderland and is unlike any other event held throughout the year. Kids get down and dirty as they climb to the top of a steep dirt hill with their buckets and shovels, pour cement to create curbs, and dig piles and piles of dirt with excavators. Throughout the day around 6,000 people will make their way to the event.
“I would say that this is a kids toy box and sandbox coming to life,” said Event Manager Stephanie Uter. “In my opinion, it’s better than Disney World. I mean, you have the sand hill, you’ve got the standing equipment. You can honk those horns as loud as you want to and as long as you want to and then you get to go on a piece of equipment like this and you get to do what not many people get to do.”
The money donated from the sponsors and raised through the $5 ticket sales make up about ten percent of Eagle Mount’s Budget each year.
Eagle Mount was started in 1982 with the goal of providing recreational opportunities for people with disabilities and children with cancer. Activities include adventure skiing, horseback riding, swimming, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, cycling, fishing and operating heavy equipment each year at Digger Days.
“Yeah you hear them,” said Chance Kirby. “Especially with the Eagle Mount Kids we get them, and we had one last year and he was just screaming the whole time, having such a good time and laughing.”
For siblings Dovvin and Halen Gale this event is like nothing they have ever seen before. They both got to run up the sand hill, honk the horns of all different types of heavy machinery, and test their skills when operating an excavator.
“It is a little scary at first, ’cause you are operating this huge machinery,” said 10-year-old Halen. “Then it gets really really exciting, I love that part.”
“Mostly it is just like making all the creations, like all the fun. Like it’s just like real fun,” said 8-year-old Dovvin.
Eagle Mount said this year they expect to raise as much as $100,000.
Uter says this year there were more than 100 sponsors that made this day possible. Some of the major sponsors include Sime Construction, Northwestern Energy, TMC, Core and Main, Montana Contractors Association, and Knife River.