News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 15, 2013

Another successful BluesFest hits final note

BluesFest essay winners get prizes

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — At the “Crossroads of America”  — Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute — an annual music event wrapped up Saturday with perfect weather, a huge crowd and seven acts taking the stage.

 The 13th Blues at the Crossroads festival started Friday and continued late into the night Saturday, featuring such bands as Yearbook Committee, Max Allen, Miller, Dave Herrero Trio, The Leonard Washingtons and Henhouse Prowlers.

The crowd also clapped their hands and danced to the music of Jon Strahl. The two-day event is usually attended by around 8,000 people.

“The festival is going great. It’s been perfect,” BluesFest organizer Connie Wrin said.

The turnout — about 200 people — during the festival’s first hour Saturday afternoon was the biggest BluesFest has ever had during that time period, Wrin said. The gates opened at 3 p.m.

But BluesFest is also trying to share the gift of music to young people.

On Saturday, a dozen members of the Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club, ages 9-14, were presented with music lesson certificates and instruments. These kids were the winners of a BluesFest essay contest.

 The instruments they received included guitars and a clarinet, flute, saxophone and snare drum.

“It’s such a positive for us and for the kids,” said Jimmy Smith, executive director of the Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club.

Smith said a majority of the kids “would never have the opportunity to be able to obtain a musical instrument” and get lessons.

Now they can.

This was made possible through the collaboration of Blues at the Crossroads, Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club, Indiana State University Community School of the Arts and Center for Community Engagement. The instruments were donated by music stores, such as the Conservatory of Music and The Music Shoppe.

“It’s a neat opportunity for our kids,” Smith said.

The festival also brought customers to the restaurants and stores at the crossroads.

Phung Ly, co-owner of the Asian Market Oriental Grocery and Gift said the event brought a lot of traffic and sales to her business.

“They [customers] like my egg roll. Every year, we sell a lot of eggrolls,” around 500 eggrolls over the two days, she said.  

Like other businesses along Wabash Avenue, the store set up a table along the sidewalk for the eggrolls, drinks and other snacks it sold during the festival.

“I think everybody enjoys the music and the food around here,” Ly said of the festival.

One attendee enjoyed the food and music Saturday and all night Friday.

“We never left. We stayed down here,” Pat Boggs said.

Boggs, his brother and son stayed at a nearby hotel.

He said he has been attending BluesFest since its inception but only started getting a hotel three years ago.

Boggs said he is already looking forward to next year’s festival “and the year after that.”

“We look forward to it all year long,” Boggs said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@

BluesFest contest winners

• These young people received music lesson certificates and instruments at the Blues at the Crossroads festival:

Susan Cramer

Tim McNamara

Kierra Renner

Tori Linenkamp

Carly Rice

Brooklyn Hall

Sarah Richards

Gage Manuel

Devan Darkis

Emily Wright

Jonathan Utz

Amelia Pomfret

(Information provided by organizers)