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Blues Fest shines on families

June 05, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

It was the third year that Jessica Rizzo traveled from her home in California to spend a weekend listening to blues music with her family in Hagerstown.

"She came all the way from California just for Blues Fest," said her father, Jamie Neikirk, of Williamsport.

Rizzo was at City Park with her father Sunday for the final day of the 11th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest. Sitting on a blanket in a grassy area removed from the bandshell, the two said they were enjoying the most relaxed day of the three-day festival.

"You're finished partying after two days," Neikirk said. "And this is more family-oriented."

Families brought blankets, lawn chairs, coolers and beach umbrellas, and settled in to enjoy five hours of music.

Greg Yost and his wife, Cory Yost, of Hagerstown, were out of town during last year's Blues Fest and were eager to come this year. They were out of town for the shows Friday and Saturday, but were at City Park on Sunday.

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"The music is really nice, and we're outside on a beautiful day," she said.

Greg Yost said he wasn't sure what to expect.

"It's bigger than I thought," he said.

City of Hagerstown spokeswoman Karen Giffin said about 4,500 were at City Park. She and Carl Disque, Blues Fest creator and event co-chair, agreed that more people attended this year's festival than last.

"This was an absolute grand slam home run," Disque said.

Julie Stahley, of Greencastle, Pa., and her daughter Morgan, 7, have been to Blues Fest for several years. They were there Sunday with Stahley's friend, Joni Myers, also of Greencastle.

"We're here to relax, enjoy some music and watch some people," Stahley said.

Morgan also ate some funnel cake and later that afternoon was enjoying a blueberry shaved ice, she said.

"For me, the best part is just being outside," Stahley said. "It's a nice day to enjoy listening to music."

Four bands performed in the bandshell Sunday: Blue Rhythm Boys, David Bach Consort, The Carl Filipiak Group, and Rosie Ledet and The Zydeco Playboys.

Curtis Russell of Hagerstown spent his birthday with his wife, Lauri, at City Park. The pair picked a spot under a tree to listen to the blues.

"He likes the blues, and I like the blues," she said.

This was the third time the couple attended Blues Fest.

"The bands are better this year," he said.

Elizabeth Russ of Hagerstown said she works for the city and is a patron of most city events.

"I come out here ever year for (Blues Fest)," she said. "I just enjoy the blues."

Russ sat on a blanket, while her friend, Roxy Jackson, of Hagerstown, sat in a chair, shielding the sun with a large umbrella.

"We always come together," Jackson said. "It's been nice."

The two said they were enjoying the food and the chance to relax outside.

"It's nice that everybody comes together, no matter what creed or color, and has a good time," Jackson said.

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts also hosted events Sunday.

"We'll be back next year," Rizzo said. "I think it just gets bigger and better every year."

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