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Blues Fest has grown to ten times original size

May 29, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The budget of the Western Maryland Blues Fest is almost 10 times larger than it was when the event began in 1996.

Carl W. Disque, chairman of the Blues Fest's executive committee, said after a press conference Wednesday to promote the four-day event that organizers of the inaugural Blues Fest had a $25,000 operating budget. Thirteen years later, the budget has grown to almost $250,000, he said.

The budget is used, among other things, to pay the performers and to build stages, he said. All of the profits from Blues Fest are put back into the budget to promote the following year's event, he said.

"It takes a village to put on something as wonderful and multi-faceted as the Blues Fest," Disque said. "If people weren't willing to sign on, it wouldn't have become what it has become."

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This year's Blues Fest, which runs from today until Sunday, will feature Scofield, Medeski & Deitch; Savoy Brown; Charlie Musselwhite; and Grammy Award nominee Buckwheat Zydeco.

"This is high-quality music you usually can't get unless you travel into urban areas," Disque said.

Thomas Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Blues Fest is internationally known and helps market the area.

It is estimated that during good weather, the Blues Fest averages 10,000 to 15,000 spectators, he said. Those people pump about $2.5 million into the local economy.

The event is free on Thursday and Sunday and varies in price for the Friday and Saturday shows.

For tickets and a complete list of performers, visit www.blues-fest.org or call 301-739-8577, ext. 116.

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