Hagerstown got its usual dose of the blues Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but there was something special about the fourth day in City Park.
The 17th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest has typically featured a free day of music in the park on the final day of the event, and festival founder Carl Disque said he believes Sunday’s installment of the festival was one of the best in the park so far.
The seating area in front of the Peter Buys Band Shell was packed with spectators Sunday afternoon, as were the shaded areas nearby.
“We just like it on Sundays (with) the park atmosphere,” said Robin Hull of Waynesboro, Pa., who came to the park with her husband.
Garey Stewart Jr. of Hagerstown and Marie Bikle were sitting on a hillside above the band shell and were commenting on a perfect combination: blues music filtering through the air and the beauty of City Park.
“It’s a wonderful gift to the community,” Stewart said.
Disque said the Family Blues Picnic in the park lets people see what a special place City Park is. It was made all the better by Sunday’s weather, which offered up temperatures in the mid-70s and mostly sunny skies, Disque said. The skies opened up at one point, but it was a brief rain and the party went on.
“What’s not to like about it when you experience it?” Disque said of the music and the park. “It makes you happy to be alive,” said Disque, who jumped onstage and joined the Stack O’ Blues band with his saxophone for one song.
Tom Hawkins was laid back in the grass in the sun as acts like the Paul Pfaul Blues Band, Bad Influence Band and Bobby Parker made their way onto the stage.
“Just kicking back,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said he has attended the blues fest many times over the years. When he moved to Romney, W.Va., at one point, he said he and his girlfriend used to come back to Hagerstown for the event.
Despite the stormy weather Friday, Hawkins said he particularly enjoyed that night’s music and bought some CD recordings of one of the bands.
“I’m kinda all bluesed out today. I’m just enjoying the weather,” Hawkins said.
Megan McKinley of Emmitsburg, Md., sat on a fold-out chair with a white and black checkered umbrella that shaded her seat. She said she grew up listening to the blues and came to the park with her family.
McKinley plays several instruments, and her dedication to music was evident with two Michael Jackson tattoos and another tattoo of musical notes from an Elvis Presley tune circling her arm. McKinley, who said she plans to add Johnny Cash and John Lennon tattoos to her collection, said she plays all types of music.
“It just depends on the mood I’m in,” McKinley said.
As usual, there were activities for kids during the family-oriented day in the park.
Children could try their hand at blowing on a clarinet, flute, saxophone or trumpet at a stand operated by Music & Arts, a music store on Garland Groh Boulevard in Hagerstown.
The Washington County Free Library also had a stand to promote a summer reading club and a staff member told stories in a pavilion. At another table, kids made kazoos out of paper tubes, while long lines formed at a face-painting area and children were given rides on a train-like ride powered by a lawn tractor.