12th Annual Blues Fest draws a Midwest crowd

Andy Frakes

The first weekend of September meant one thing this year: Blues Fest. Heat, humidity, sunshine, green grass and the blues.re-IMG_1326

The Mattson Lower Harbor Park was taken over with tents, food trucks and a central stage to host artists from all over the country.

Lovely (if oppressively humid) weather allowed for a full experience for the attendees, with beer and food readily available and merchandise vendors stationed around the park.

Among the notable food vendors were Stucko’s Pub, Rollin’ Smoke Barbeque and Ram-pagin’ Cajun. Standard fare, such as event T-shirts and Labatt Blue Lite, were also available for festival goers. Craft beers were available for a slightly higher rate and New Belgium had a sizable representation through the weekend.

Last year’s festival included The Ben Daniels band, and when Ben’s father Jeff Daniels showed, it drew a lot of attention to the event. However, last year’s weather wasn’t quite as stellar.

Cindy Engle, a fifth-year event volunteer, said 2014’s Blues Festival was cooler and got its fair share of rain.

“This year has been good, though—we’re having a great time!” Engle said.

Kevin Frank drove up from Akron, Ohio to attend the event, and said he was enjoying himself.

“This festival is much more relaxed than other festivals I’ve been to and you can mingle easier; the lines are good and short,” Frank said. “You’re also a lot closer to the music so you don’t have to frickin’ fight anybody.”

Friday night, the opening evening for the festival, allowed free entry to the public; according to some of the volunteers, this drew in people who otherwise may not have attended.

“Getting people in on Friday night got people to buy tickets for Saturday and Sunday,” said Sue Minckler, an 11-year veteran volunteer at the event and volunteer coordinator for the past three Blues Festivals. “Being here is a fun experience all the way around.”