Hub City gets down to the real nitty-gritty

June 05, 1997

Hub City gets down to the real nitty-gritty

City ready for thousands of blues fans


Staff Writer

Come this weekend, Hagerstown will have a heavy dose of the blues.

The city is hosting the Western Maryland Blues Fest, featuring top blues performers from across the country, for the second year in a row on Saturday and Sunday. Downtown Coordinator Karen Giffin said at a press conference in Public Square on Wednesday that 16,000 jazz buffs from across the nation are expected to attend.

Organizers said they've had inquiries about the festival from all over the United States, and one from Germany via fax. Giffin had to hire a temporary assistant to help field calls, they said.


Last year, 8,000 showed up for the two-day event, and the festival came out $2,500 in the black, Giffin said.

This year, the festival is funded by $35,000 in cash donations, $40,000 in in-kind contributions, and a grant from the Maryland Arts Council, Giffin said. Corporate response to this year's fund-raising campaign was excellent, she said.

The city is contributing the time and talents of staff, and more than 100 volunteers are helping organize the festival, city officials said.

The festival will be held rain or shine.

Streets in the area of the square will be blocked off to vehicle traffic during the Saturday street festival, organizers said.

Blues Fest committee chair Carl Disque emphasized the event is a family affair, with activities scheduled for children and adults.

Giffin said city crews will be out at 6 a.m. Saturday setting up downtown for the festival.

On Sunday, most activities will shift to City Park, where there will be an all-day family blues picnic.

The Valley Arts Association is hosting a regional arts festival inside and outside the Mansion House on the Hill in City Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, organizers said.

A spokeswoman for the council said 23 artists from across the Tri-State area will display and sell their works.

Other weekend events will be held at various locations in the city, organizers said.

As a kickoff to the weekend, on Friday The Push, and Steve Kemp Trio will perform in the courtyard of The Maryland Theatre from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Bad Influence will hold a concert at Municipal Stadium from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. before the Hagerstown Suns game; and Rory Block will perform at the Kepler Theater at Hagerstown Junior College at 8 p.m.

For more information on the weekend's activities visit the Blues Fest Web site at ( or call 301-739-8577, Ext. 116.

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