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No drops of money collected

June 10, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Enough rain did not fall on downtown Hagerstown during the eighth Western Maryland Blues Fest on May 31 for the city to collect on rain insurance, Hagerstown spokeswoman Karen Giffin said Monday.

The city bought a $4,300 insurance policy for the city event. The policy would have paid $40,000 had at least 1/2 inch of rain fallen between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. on May 31, she said.

But .37 of an inch of rain had fallen by 4 p.m., Giffin said.

Public safety officials halted the event at about 3:30 p.m. because of reports that storms with winds and lightning were headed toward Hagerstown, posing a public safety risk, Giffin said.

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It was the first year the event was ended early, she said.

Tickets, which were $20 in advance and $25 at the gate, were nonrefundable.

An estimated 2,500 people attended the festival Saturday, of which about 1,200 bought tickets, Giffin said. Some of those not paying for tickets were paid event sponsors, she said.

Usually about 4,000 to 5,000 people attend the event on Saturdays, she said.

This was the third year the city has bought rain insurance, Giffin said. The city does not have to cancel the event in order to collect the rain insurance, she said.

The city was collecting information on total revenues and expenses for the weekend event and was not releasing preliminary information, she said.

The committee that organizes the event may evaluate whether to make a change in the insurance policy, Giffin said. The city could get an insurance policy that pays out if less rain falls but that insurance is more expensive, she said.

"Any rain insurance is a gamble. We need to figure out how much to spend to gamble," she said.

Last year the festival began with sold-out concerts at the city parking deck on Friday attended by 999 people, she said.

This year the event was moved into the municipal parking lot across Potomac Street, in part so more people could attend. About 1,600 people attended the Friday night concert, she said.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 people attended the free Sunday event at City Park, compared to a normal average of about 5,000, she said.

"We had a nice crowd but the rain did hinder that somewhat," she said.

The crowd estimates for Friday and Saturday include people who watched the concert from outside the gated areas, she said.

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