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Blues Fest shines on

June 06, 2010|By DAN DEARTH
  • Phil Wiggins, left, and Corey Harris were headliners at the Family Blues Picnic Sunday at the Western Maryland Blues Fest.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

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    HAGERSTOWN -- A tornado watch, sporadic rain and high humidity didn't deter a few thousand die-hard music fans from attending the final day of the Western Maryland Blues Fest on Sunday at Hagerstown City Park.

    The four-day event, which was held downtown Thursday, Friday and Saturday before moving to the park, featured nearly 20 acts, including The Tommy Castro Band and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

    The Blues Fest culminated Sunday with an acoustic performance by Phil Wiggins and Corey Harris.

    Wiggins, who played at the inaugural Blues Fest 15 years ago, said the event offers a relaxing atmosphere that allows people to sit back and enjoy the music.

    "It's a great location," Wiggins said. "I like that it's kept its character, its down-to-earth, friendly, relaxed character."


Many of the people who attended the festival Sunday brought along their children, not only to enjoy the music but to feed the ducks and ride the rides.

Julie Hawes of Martinsburg, W.Va., had her 6-month-old daughter, Charlotte, in tow. Julie Hawes set up a playpen in the grass to make sure her daughter had a safe place to play.

"She's getting ready to crawl, so it's hard to keep her still," Julie Hawes said. "I think it's good to get outside and hear good music."

Vincent Knight of Elkton, Md., said he usually tries to follow blues and barbecue festivals whenever he can. He said he never attended a Western Maryland Blues Fest until this year.

"I wish we would have started from day one," Knight said. "My wife and children are definitely enjoying themselves. We'll come back in the future."

Lisa Brown was at Blues Fest with her daughter, Misti Brown, and four young grandchildren.

"We come every year," Lisa Brown said. "We're going to plop down on a blanket and relax a little."

City officials won't know until later this week whether they'll collect on a rain insurance policy that was purchased earlier this year to protect the festival from financial loss, said Karen Giffin, community affairs director for the City of Hagerstown.

The city will collect $60,000 if more than 1/4 inch of rain fell Saturday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Giffin said. The city also purchased $20,000 of coverage for Friday.

She said the policies cost a total of $9,200 and were paid for with funds from the city's Blues Fest budget.

"We've had great entertainment and even with the threatening weather, we've had a good turnout," Giffin said.

Giffin said the attendance at this year's festival was comparable to that of earlier years.

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