Blues Fest Deserves Our Finest Venue

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Blues fans who came in numbers to enjoy the June Bug festival were grateful to be back in the shade and cool grass of Rumsey Park.

Getting the festival back to Rumsey from the scalding, dusty event center was not an easy thing.

The Parks and Recreation advisory board had voted unanimously that the festival should only be held at the event center. Festival organizer "Shakey" Joe Harless --ith the help of Mayor Ken Murphy --ppealed to Parks and Rec Director Bill Schwind to get back to Rumsey. Schwind offered Green Valley Park which was an unexpected surprise. Yet public pressure and the costly hoops Harless had to jump through to have the festival at Green Valley sent it back to the negotiating table and eventually back to Rumsey.

The next obstacle was getting approval by the council. When the Santa's List organization came before the council to get approval on a liquor license application to sell beer at the festival at Rumsey, the council understood that the real issue was the move back to Rumsey -- not so much about the liquor license.

Harless and his supporters attended the meeting and members of the community came to the podium to express to the council that the success of the coveted festival was dependent on a comfortable venue. They urged the council to recognize the economic and cultural value of the festival.

Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bob Ware was most eloquent in describing the profound difference that green grass and tall pines make in the experience.

Realizing that the ultimate survival of the festival lay in their hands, the council voted unanimously to approve the liquor license and thereby approve the move back to Rumsey.

Those who attended last weekend's festival enjoyed a fantastic show in a beautiful and comfortable setting. The crowd was made up of many different people of every age and was respectful of the park and performers at all times.

We are grateful to Harless for the countless hours he's put in over the past decade to keep the blues alive in Rim country. We also thank the mayor for leading the charge to move the festival to Rumsey Park, and appreciate the council's support of this and all festivals.

With our town staff and elected officials in support of keeping the blues festival alive, perhaps next year won't be such an uphill battle.

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