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Much work makes Blues Fest go well

June 04, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

The seventh annual Western Maryland Blues Fest is history and it's a measure of how well this event is run that local folks have come to expect that thousands of people will listen to music on three separate days with few if any problems. Before this year's event fades from memory, we believe some congratulations are in order.

We salute the organizing committee, which, along with city staffers, spent months organizing the event. Not only do they handle booking the artists and arranging for things like street closings and other logistical chores, they also maintain a Web site and help create a full-color program distributed through The Herald-Mail newspapers.

Then there are the sponsors, who assist with the financial burdens of the event. Without their assistance, the music that's free now would likely cost a whole lot more.

The event's many volunteers also provide services that would otherwise have to be paid for. They do everything from taking tickets to running many of the children's activities that give this event a family-friendly feel.

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And then there are the attendees themselves, who come to the event to enjoy the music without feeling the need to get rowdy in the process.

These visitors' economic contributions shouldn't be underestimated, because in 2001 city officials estimated that those who came from outside the area spent an average of $98 per day, not counting the cost of their lodging.

The Blues Fest is not only a good time, but an opportunity for the area to show itself off to visitors, who ought to be inspired to return for a look at the area's other attractions.

To do that, the city needs to put on its best face for Blues Fest weekend. In hindsight, the city should have asked the state to delay removing all the trees on Washington Street downtown until the festival was over.

The festival is a wonderful three-day events whose organizers deserve the area's thanks. For their part, local officials need to devote more effort to showing off the city and bringing music lovers back here to experience other kinds of culture.

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