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Some neighbors sing blues over festival's location

June 07, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Many of the singers performing at the Western Maryland Blues Fest finale Sunday sang songs about relationship problems and other woes to the delight of thousands of music fans at the City Central Lot off North Potomac and East Washington streets.

But several residents who live near the festival site sang a different tune, saying the music was excessively loud and the event was little more than a weekend-long burden.

Roy Poper Jr. said having the festival in the lot was a slight improvement over having the event in Public Square, but he said it still was a bad idea because of foot and car traffic and noise generated between Friday and Sunday.

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"It's a good idea to have this and raise the money for the city, but if you tried to get through this part of town, it'd take you 15 minutes," Poper said.

Poper's wife and daughter declined to comment about Blues Fest and quickly slammed the door shut. A three-word sign hanging in the residence's window illustrated the household's overall disapproval of the event.

Lynn Drurry also said she likes the Blues Fest concept, but the noise was too much of a weekend-long distraction this year. She said the bass sounds from the speakers made the windows, walls and shelves inside her apartment vibrate.

"I like how it's set up, don't get me wrong, but it shouldn't be that loud," Drurry said. "If they'd keep that music down, it wouldn't be so bad for the people that live in here. A woman over there just had that baby on Monday."

Dickie Hughes said along with the noise, the festival made it difficult, sometimes impossible, to access a private parking lot for tenants in the nearby building.

"People pay for these spots, and they're setting up little parties," Hughes said pointing to a group sitting on a blanket in the lot. "It could be a little more under control."

He also said it brought too many people to the area near the residences.

There was an estimated 3,000 to 3,500 people in the lot for Sunday's event, which was held there instead of City Park after storms earlier in the weekend left the park grounds too wet and muddy for such an event.

"What's wrong with having it at the fairgrounds?" he asked hypothetically.

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