NORWICH – Thousands are expected to flock to the Chenango County fairgrounds this weekend as the 21st annual Manpower Chenango Blues Fest gets underway tonight following another successful free summer concert series and second annual Summer Jam.
The blues begin at 6 p.m tonight at the Frontier Communications tent with Pinecone Fletcher – known for his “hobo blues” – and will be followed by blues-rock guitarist Tinsley Ellis, who is set to hit the stage at 7:15 p.m. Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers bring their “rocked-up zydeco” at 9 p.m., rounding out the evening of free performances.
Gates will open at 11 a.m. Saturday and this year’s event includes performances by Chris O’Leary, the California Honeydrops, the Larry McCray Band, the new “Queen of the Blues” Shemekia Copeland and the Royal Southern Brotherhood, all on the Sheffield Bio-Science Infield main stage.
The performers slated to occupy the Nelson and Flanagan-Grouse Ridge Kennels tent stage include Tas Cru – who performed at the Blues Fest in 2011 –, multi-instrumentalist and singer Valerie June, “one-man-band” Ben Prestage, and the New Orleans-based Honey Island Swamp Band.
Said Chenango Blues Association President Eric Larsen, “The lineup is full of great talent and the weather forecast is terrific.”
Attendance at the Blues Fest has continued to break records for the past three years, and this year’s turnout is expected to be just as great.
“It should be the social event of the season,” added Larsen.
Aside from the musical talent, the Blues Fest offers free children’s activities, food and craft vendors and on-site camping.
According to Eileen Andrews, Chenango Blues Association committee member and vendor coordinator, some of the vendors have been to the festival for more than 18 years and know each other well from the festivals of years past.
“They refer to me as the ‘Vendor Queen,’” said Andrews. “I work along side them all day of the festival, helping them out with what they may need.”
Andrews added the goods vendors are each rather unique and said the food vendors are top-notch.
“It is with their professionalism and quality goods that we are able to put on such a great event,” she said.