News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 14, 2013

Belting it out at Blues at the Crossroads

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Blues at the Crossroads Festival, now in its 13th year, kicked off on a chilly Friday night at the historic intersection dubbed “Crossroads of America” (that is, Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue).

BluesFest, as the event is known, attracts around 8,000 fans from Terre Haute and its surrounding areas for blues, food and fun.

The event continues today with seven acts taking the stage. Five acts were scheduled to take the stage Friday night, starting at 5:15 p.m.

By nightfall, a sea of people sat along Wabash Avenue. At around 8 p.m., couples and groups energetically danced to the music of Jennie DeVoe.

Organizer Connie Wrin said the event is raising money for the Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club.

The funds will “provide instruments and music lessons,” Wrin said. This year, she hopes  to raise close to $10,000 for the organization.

A kids zone will be set up today at the Vigo County School Corpor. parking lot, along with vendors, a food court and beer garden.

Wrin thanked the school corporation and the “amazing group” of volunteers that helped put the event together.

“I couldn’t do it without them,” she said.

The event took 10 months to plan and $150,000 to put together, Wrin said.

“It’s about bringing the community together to celebrate music, to celebrate the community,” said Wrin, who is also owner of downtown business, The Verve.

BluesFest also brings families together.

Before the start of the event, Maria Jarvis of Terre Haute set up two lawn chairs on the sidewalk for her and her daughter, who was en route to the event from Indianapolis.

“We do it every year” since it started, Jarvis said.

“We love the blues,” she added.

The mother-daughter duo attend both days.

“We just have a good time together,” Jarvis said.

Another duo who attend every year are Parke County residents Mark and Sheri Trendelman.

“We come here every year” and only missed one year when it rained out, Mark Trendelman — who wore a “Blues at the Crossroads” shirt — said as he sat on his lawn chair in the front row Friday.

“It’s one of the few things for which the city of Terre Haute gets united and comes out for,” he said.

“I’m into blues music,” Trendelman added.

Trendelman set up lawn chairs in the front row for his wife and friends and he has saved the spot since 3 p.m.

“This is the front row now” but it won’t be for long, he said, as people will eventually sit, stand and dance in front of the row.

“It gets kind of crazy up front. It’s fun,” Trendelman said.  

Up front and on stage, the event kicked-off with a message by Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett.

“Welcome to the Crossroads of America,” he told the crowd gathered shortly after 5 p.m.

Afterwards, Bennett introduced Honey Creek Middle School students, Emily and Courtney, who sang the national anthem. The crowd cheered for the two after the song.

Then, the Center Street Jazz Quartet, whose members are middle and high school students, took the stage. They were followed by Dicky James and the Blues Flames.

One attendee clearly enjoyed Dicky James and the Blues Flames’ music.

Around 6 p.m, .Marie Maroney bravely danced — solo — in front of a growing crowd of about a hundred.

“I love to dance. I always have,” Maroney said after her dance. She added that she has no problems dancing by herself.

People sitting in the front row cheered her on and told her, “You did well.”

And she has a very good reason to dance.

“It’s my birthday weekend,” Maroney said.  

She said the BluesFest always seems to fall on her birthday weekend. She turned 61 today.

And as she danced to the music, she made sure she had her 1930s vintage blue hat on.

“It’s perfect for the blues,” Maroney said.

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