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Downtown rocks

October 22, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN - They were rockin' and rollin' on South Potomac Street Saturday as Downtown Live!, an outdoor music festival, brought 10 bands and a young, hip crowd to downtown Hagerstown.

What began as a moderate crowd grew as the day progressed, drawing music fans both from Hagerstown and surrounding areas.

Katie Maher was loving the music Saturday afternoon.

"I loved the last band," she said shortly after Ledbetter Heights completed its set.

Maher traveled to Hagerstown from her Virginia home this weekend to visit her brother, Sean, who teaches Web design and multimedia technology at Hagerstown Community College. Though he lives near the downtown commercial district, "I typically don't come downtown that much," Sean Maher said.

But Katie Maher declared she was really enjoying the show, and Sean said he would like to see more such events downtown.

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It might entice him to come downtown more often, he said.

Tony Diehl of Shippensburg, Pa., who manages Ledbetter Heights, said the band - which appeared to be a crowd favorite - planned to make repeat visits to Hagers- town. He stood in the street chatting with Paul Chiacchierini and Jennifer Eastman, both of Gettysburg, Pa.

Chiacchierini, a recording engineer, had worked with Ledbetter Heights, but said he found out about Saturday's event through the Internet. Eastman was thrilled that the city had offered the street to the musicians.

"I always love a downtown area that features local bands," Eastman said. "I'm all for it - I'd definitely come again."

The lineup impressed Hagerstown resident Janine Kerns, watching the show with her former college roommate, Jen Rexroth of Bel Air, Md., and fellow Hagerstonian Donna Knapp.

Kerns frequents downtown restaurants, she said, and Saturday's festival seemed to be a sample of good things in store for the city's business center.

"I think Hagerstown has a lot of potential," she said, adding that the addition of the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown and the future Barbara Ingram School for the Arts are good for downtown.

As for Saturday's show, Kerns was enthusiastic.

"The band choices were good," she said.

"I think downtown Hagerstown is a lot nicer" than in the past, Rexroth added. "It's a good day. You get to see things that you usually drive by."

Knapp, who said she frequently shops and visits restaurants downtown, said the festival was good, but should have been publicized more - a comment made by other visitors and business owners alike during the afternoon.

But those who did attend seemed happy to be strolling along the street, enjoying the music and refreshments offered. And lest anyone forget that it's an election year, Paul Muldowney, a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, arrived mid-afternoon to mingle among the crowd.

Organizer Mike Deming, who has been busy developing a number of properties in downtown Hagerstown, said he was "extremely excited" about the event, and the amount of support other businesses had given it.

"It brings energy downtown," Deming said.

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