Sunday in the park

More than 5,000 fans enjoy Blues Fest's final day

More than 5,000 fans enjoy Blues Fest's final day

June 03, 2002|by TARA REILLY

They sang the blues about being in love, losing love, and one musician even lamented about being served a meatball without any bread.

No matter the topic, thousands turned out Sunday afternoon for the final day of the seventh annual Western Maryland Blues Fest at Hagerstown City Park.

City Public Information Manager Karen Giffin, a member of the Blues Fest Executive Committee, estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people flocked to the park to enjoy the music, weather and food.


"I like the blues a lot," said Mary Mowery of Hagerstown, who went to the fest with her mother, Maggie Wilson.

Mowery said she attends the event every year.

Duane Kidd, of Germantown, Md., said he also makes the trip to Hagerstown every year.

"This is great," said Kidd, who brought his four grandchildren to the event. "This is the first time we've come on a Sunday, and it certainly won't be the last."

The fest began Friday in downtown Hagerstown and moved to the park on Sunday.

"We had an excellent weekend," Giffin said. "It's a beautiful day in City Park."

The temperature peaked at 81 degrees, according to, a Web site run by local weather watcher Greg Keefer. The constant sun, however, caused crowds to wait in long lines for ice cream and tropical-flavored smoothies.

Others skipped the cool stuff and walked around chomping on smoked turkey legs, grilled chicken on a stick and funnel cakes.

Giffin said there were no major disturbances during the three-day event.

The festivities on Sunday began at noon with a performance by Little Bit a Blues, followed by Ann Rabson, Carey Bell and Blind Boys of Alabama.

Gary Jackson and Carl Disque played guitar and sax blues at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, and Rabson also held a blues music workshop at the museum afterward.

A program called Kids Jam Too! featured a magician, a harmonica workshop and musical storytelling.

Blues fans began strolling to City Park before noon with folding chairs and blankets under their arms. Children played on swing sets and sliding boards opposite the stage, while people of all ages listened to the bands.

"We got all kinds of wild blues fans in the house," said Rabson, in the middle of an hour-long solo performance.

Rabson, a member of Saffire & the Uppity Blues Women, was nominated this year for her sixth W.C. Handy Award as Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year.

"Blues is what it's all about," emcee Larry Banks said, while telling the crowd that the blues got its roots from gospel music. "I believe that the blues kind of came out of gospel."

Giffin said next year's Blues Fest will be held May 30 through June 1.

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