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Stormy weather caused delays for Blues Fest

June 01, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Friday crowd at Blues Fest.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Stormy weather caused delays during the second day of the 17th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest on Friday night as strong winds and heavy rains moved through Hagerstown.

A short 15-minute delay during a heavy downpour between sets earlier in the night was followed by a 90-minute delay for high winds before the show continued with Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters around 9 p.m., city spokeswoman Erin Wolfe said.

The delay, declared by the Blues Fest committee about 7:30 p.m., interrupted Billy Thompson Band’s performance in the City Center Lot downtown. Skyla Burrell Band opened the performance card at 4:30 p.m., and rains fell as crews were swapping out equipment for Billy Thompson.

Matt Schofield Blues Project was to be the final performer Friday night.

Karen Giffin, city community affairs manager, said she knew they were going to be “weather-challenged” Friday after a beautiful opening night on Thursday. Barring further delays, she hoped they would be able to get the full event in by 11 p.m.

“We’re watching the weather, and they’re watching the blues,” Giffin said before the high winds delay was issued. “We’re just moving forward. We’re going to see how we do, and then tomorrow looks like a beautiful day, and Sunday at (City Park) looks like a beautiful day.

“I’m sure (the inclement weather) has turned some people away ... but we had a line when we got down here getting ready for the gate to open, and I think people are enjoying themselves,” she said. “We’re just going forward and listening to some music, and we’re watching the weather for them.”

Despite the rain and wind, several festival-goers said they weren’t going anywhere.

Bryan Hale of Smithsburg, who will be volunteering during today’s shows, said he’s been coming for the past 10 years. He admitted that he was a little worried about the weather, but said he planned to stick it out as long as possible.

“I like the blues,” Hale said. “It’s always a good time.”

A couple of first-timers to the event, Don and Nancy Beatty of Martinsburg, W.Va., said they were on the ropes about attending Friday’s show because of the rain. They planned to come back today.

Don Beatty said they are fans of the blues and just wanted to “see what it’s all about.”

“We moved (to Martinsburg) about a year ago, so we’re just getting to know the events each year,” he said.

Julie Sewnarine of Waynesboro, Pa., was standing with her parents, Barbara and Ed Wolff of Waynesboro, as the trio listened to Billy Thompson perform around 6:30 p.m.

Barbara Wolff said she and her husband have been coming out to the Blues Fest since it began and it’s become like a family tradition.

“We’re big Blues Fest fans,” she said.

Before she moved back to the area, Sewnarine said she used to come home to catch the shows with her parents.

“We all love music and this is a great event,” she said.

The trio said they weren’t too worried about the impending storms that were on their way to the area, and they had no plans of leaving early.

But “next year I’m bringing a roll of paper towels,” Barbara Wolff said.

The Blues Fest continues today with eight more bands on two stages, starting with Hard Swimmin’ Fish at noon.

Other performers include the Mike Westcott Band featuring Tommy Lepson, Trampled Under Foot, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, Moondog Medicine Show, Moreland & Arbuckle, The Lee Boys and Walter Trout.

Tickets at the gate are $40 for adults, $7 for children 6 to 12 years old, and admission is free for kids 5 and under. The gates open at 11 a.m.

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