Music lovers enjoy Western Maryland Blues Fest

June 04, 2011

Chris and Rita Randolph, Dundalk, Md.

Even though Chris and Rita Randolph aren't from the area, the Western Maryland Blues Fest has brought them to Hagerstown from Dundalk, Md., three years in a row.

This year, the couple only could come for the Saturday performances, but that didn't stop them from booking a hotel room for the event.

"We love the different artists," Chris said. "The food's good, too."

Chris and Rita consider themselves blues fans, and even though they weren't familiar with most of the artists this year, they said they have been looking forward to the festival for a while.

Carol Bond, Amanda Bond and Brian Klitch, Hagerstown

Carol Bond certainly loves the blues.

She said she attends the Western Maryland Blues Fest every year, and looks forward to the returning artists each time.

This year, she attended the shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"I'll maybe come tomorrow, too, if I'm not all blues-ed out," she said.

For Saturday's performances, Carol wasn't alone. She brought her daughter, Amanda, and Amanda's friend, Brian Klitch, with her.

"I'm really excited to hear the artists," Carol said.

Lucy and Genelle Robillard, Boonsboro

For Lucy Robillard and her daughter, Genelle, the Western Maryland Blues Fest is a family affair.

"The whole family usually comes," Lucy said. "They come down from Buffalo and stay just for this."

The Robillards have been fans of the event since the mid-1990s, and try to come all four days. Even though Lucy's youngest daughter graduated earlier in the week, the family still managed to make it out for the event.

Lucy and Genelle are blues lovers in general, but were particularly looking forward to Hamilton Loomis' performance after hearing him last year.

Ruth Bikle, Hagerstown

Digging into a helping of shaved ice, Ruth Bikle said she doesn't just come to the Western Maryland Blues Fest for the music. She loves everything from the food to the people.

"I love the music and watching all the people," she said.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Bikle has been attending the event for about three or four years. She came out early for the Saturday festivities, and also plans to go to today's show at City Park.

"I love the atmosphere," she said. "It's relaxed and hyper at the same time."

Trent Renshaw, Krystal Kennedy and Evelyn Renshaw

Three-year-old Evelyn Renshaw is a Western Maryland Blues Fest veteran. She even donned sunglasses and a summer dress in preparation for the heat and fun this year.

Evelyn's parents, Trent Renshaw and Krystal Kennedy, are serious blues fans. They try to make it to the festival every year, and have taken Evelyn with them before.

Trent is a local musician, and even performs at the festival some years.

Although Trent wasn't on stage this year, the three still anticipated a great time.

"It's a great way to celebrate our town," Krystal said.

Elaine Ashby and Marie Nicol, Martinsburg, W.Va.

Elaine Ashby volunteered at the Western Maryland Blues Fest for the first time last year. She loved it so much, she convinced her friend, Marie Nicol, to join her this year.

"I love it so far," Marie said. "I never made it out before now, but I've heard rave things about it."

The two got free T-shirts for helping watch the gate and giving attendants directions.

"I had such a great time last year," Elaine said.

Courtney Summers, Frederick, Md.

Courtney Summers hasn't been to the Western Maryland Blues Fest since she left Hagerstown to attend Towson (Md.) University. This year, two friends took her along.

"I haven't been here in four years, but I've heard great things," she said. "It's a really great thing for Hagerstown to have."

Courtney lives in Frederick now, but came back Saturday with high expectations for the performances.

"I'm excited," she said. "I heard last night's acts were pretty entertaining."

Jamie Harbaugh, Hagerstown

Jamie Harbaugh works part time at Hard Times Cafe & Cue. When she heard that the restaurant needed employees to go to the Western Maryland Blues Fest, his name was first on the list.

"I've come every year for four years," Jamie said. "'Please let me go,' I said."

Ever since Jamie moved to Hagerstown five years ago, he's been a huge Blues Fest fan.

"I just love music basically, but I really love the blues," he said.

Although he's working the event this year, Jamie said he still enjoyed the festival.

Walter and Leona Tates, Washington, D.C.

Walter Tates knows music.

A sound engineer from the Washington, D.C., area, Walter performed with the Bobby Parker Band on Saturday.

Walter and his daughter, Leona, have never been to the Western Maryland Blues Fest before, but they got time to enjoy the festivities before he went on stage. As they shared a bag of kettle corn and listened to musicians, Walter said he was impressed.

"I'm enjoying it so far. The stage is nice, the sound is great," he said. "I can't wait to get on stage. You don't always get good sound on and off stage."

Grace Best, Cristain McVey, Tyler McVey, Lilly McVey, Rozzie Scott

Grace Best had her hands full Saturday at the Western Maryland Blues Fest. The Hagerstown resident brought four of her grandchildren with her to enjoy face painting, arts and crafts, and music.

"I brought the boys up last year," she said. "They really looked forward to it this year."

Cristain McVey, 5, enjoyed his second Blues Fest experience. He said his favorite part was getting his face painted.

Along with Cristain, Tyler McVey, 8; Lilly McVey, 4; and Rozzie Scott, 3, came along for the fun.

"It's for the kids," Beste said.


— Maegan Clearwood

(Editor's note: This story was edited June 6, 2011, to correct the spelling of Grace Best's, Cristain McVey's and Lilly McVey's names.)

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