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Festival goers keep woman from singing blues over lost purse

June 03, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- Barbara Parry could have had a horrible time at the Western Maryland Blues Fest Saturday.

But the kindness of strangers turned a mishap into a memorable day for Parry, who said her experience Saturday was "one of the best" the frequent festival-goer has ever had.

As Parry approached the festival's gate Saturday morning, she reached back over her shoulder for her purse, which she had stowed in one of the blue, string-tied bags provided free at the festival.

She pulled the bag around and realized it was empty.

The string had broken, and her purse - which contained her ticket, bank card, hotel key, driver's license, prescription glasses, about $60 in cash and her "only tube of lipstick" - was gone.

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Parry, who drove 75 miles from Hampstead, Md., to attend Blues Fest, had no idea what to do.

"Everything I needed was in my purse. I was more than an hour from home and had nothing," Parry said.

Parry retraced her steps to no avail. That's when what she called "the spirit of the blues crowd" came to her rescue.

Volunteers helped her contact the Venice Inn, where she was staying. The hotel changed her room key right away.

Hagerstown City Police filed a report immediately.

Several people helped her search for her purse, and although the search was unsuccessful Saturday, she received a call at home the next day from a couple whose son had found it.

They asked for her address and said they would mail her purse, free of charge.

"Anything that could have been a bad experience that day wasn't. This crowd is the way the world should be," Parry said.

She attributed the eagerness to help to what she said is a communal attitude held by many festival goers.

"We see each other all the time and look after each other. We call it our blues church," Parry said.

Parry said she travels to blues festivals several times a year.

"The Western Maryland festival is definitely one of the best," Parry said.

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