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Crowd well-behaved during Western Maryland Blues Fest

June 02, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

Despite the mixture of alcohol, music and a large crowd numbering in the thousands, no major problems were reported Saturday during the 17th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest in downtown Hagerstown.

City police Sgt. Kevin Simmers said no one had been arrested as of 6:30 p.m. The event started at noon and was to run until 9:30 p.m.

“Everybody’s been well-behaved,” Simmers said. “It’s mostly a middle-aged crowd.”

Simmers, who said he has worked every year since the event started 17 years ago, said the Blues Fest is typically a low-keyed event.

Saturday’s mild weather with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s was in stark contrast to Friday night’s show.

Almost an inch of rain and wind gusts near 35 mph were recorded in the area on Friday night, according to i4weather.net, a website operated by local weather observer Greg Keefer.

The National Weather Service Friday issued a tornado watch until 9 p.m. for Washington County and all neighboring counties in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

To be on the safe side, Simmers said police directed people into City Hall and the Elizabeth Hager Center near the Blues Fest venue. Other people took refuge in the city parking deck on North Potomac Street.

Karen Giffin, the city’s community affairs manager, said the Hagerstown City Council voted before the event to spend $9,200 to buy rain insurance for Friday and Saturday nights.

The city typically buys the insurance to make up for lost revenue if rain causes attendance to decline.

Giffin said the city would file a claim to collect for Friday evening’s losses.

Under the policy, the city can collect up to $20,000 if more than quarter of an inch of rain fell between 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, Giffin said.

She said she would find out more about the claim in “a week or so.”

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