Fest final day a family affair

June 02, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

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HAGERSTOWN - The fields and trails of Hagerstown's City Park were permeated Sunday afternoon with the smell of hot funnel cakes, the blue glitter of Mardi Gras beads and, of course, the soulful music of Western Maryland Blues Fest 2008's final four acts.

Sunday's free concert, which wrapped up the annual four-day music festival, is traditionally the most family-oriented, and guests at Sunday's show said this year was no different.

"It's a family day," said Joan Grove, 53, of Smithsburg, whose relatives came prepared with a semi-transparent tent, picnic foods and a tarp.


Their preparations came in handy at about noon, when a brief rain shower sent blues fans scrambling for shelter beneath pavilions, trees and blankets. However, the skies soon cleared, and before long, fans were again sprawled out on blankets, waiting in line for shaved ice and swaying their bodies in front of the bandstand.

Some Blues Fest regulars said they missed Saturday's concert this year because of thunderstorms, but braved the weather Sunday to make up for it.

"I think there's more people here this year than usual," observed Mary Bock, 44, of Greencastle, Pa., who attributed the increase to Saturday's storms. "That may have put a damper on things yesterday," she said.

Sunday afternoon's shower didn't discourage the Bocks, who have been coming to Blues Fest since its first year in 1996. Eli Bock, 13, and his friend Walker Kinsey, 13, said they have been attending Blues Fest since they were toddlers, and the music has grown on them over the years.

Still, Walker said he prefers listening to metal and rock.

"What I really listen to, I can bang my head to," he said. "I can't bang my head to this."

In front of the park's bandstand, there might not have been any head banging, but 48-year-old Debbie Farley of Nanjemoy, Md., had no trouble moving her body to the music.

"It's just something I've done all my life," Farley said. "I was raised on (blues) since I was a little girl."

Farley said her favorite performer was Nora Jean Bruso, whom she admired for her voice, soul and rhythm.

"She sang her heart out," Farley said.

Bruso's singing had a similar impact on Corinne Bagley, 17, of Hagerstown, who said she doesn't usually listen to blues, but loves coming to Blues Fest.

"It's soulful," Bagley said. "You can tell it means something."

Bagley, who graduates from North Hagerstown High School this week, also found time Sunday to try out some games in the festival's kids area and have a balloon-sword fight with a friend.

"We decided to go be kids again," she said.

While Sunday's concert meant the end of this year's Western Maryland Blues Fest, for some fans, it was only the beginning.

"It starts the blues season for us," said Jay Scalese, 62, of Elkridge, Md., who travels up and down the East Coast with his wife to go to blues festivals in the summer. Still, the Western Maryland Blues Fest holds a special significance for them.

"We wouldn't miss it for anything," Scalese said.

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