Bluesfest To Return

ST. MARYS — After a brief hiatus, Bluesfest is returning to St. Marys.

K.C. Geiger Park Improvement Committee members Rees McKee and Chris Botkin announced the return of Bluesfest during Monday night’s St. Marys City Council meeting. The festival, which was held in K.C. Geiger Park from 2007 to 2010, is scheduled to be held on Aug. 24.

“That’s a week earlier than our previous festivals,” Botkin said, noting the festival previously took place Labor Day weekend and featured two days of performances. “We’ll be asking for use of the whole park.”

This year’s Bluesfest will be a one-day show in the park. Botkin said organizers also have decided to scale back the show.

“We’ve had it in the back of our mind all along,” Botkin told The Evening Leader following the meeting. “We just though it was time to give it another shot. We are changing the date and changing some of our strategies to try and make it a more of a successful fundraiser and get more people in the park and hopefully, this time around, we will be able to keep it going.”

Approximately 90 percent of the attendance at the 2010 Bluesfest was from outside of the city. Botkin and McKee said they hope to change that percentage this year.

“I think the date was the biggest (hurdle),” McKee said, noting Labor Day often serves as a weekend getaway for residents. “We thought we’d try it again ... We’d like to have something at the park for the city.”

Regional support for the festival has been strong. During the 2010 festival, concert-goers from 13 states purchased tickets for the event.

“We are getting groups out of New Bremen and Celina who will help,” McKee said. “I cannot say enough about our last show.”

This year, Botkin and McKee hope to break the misconception that some people have about blues music.

“A lot of people don’t know what to expect with the music,” Botkin said. “They aren’t familiar with blues music, at least they think they aren’t. So much of the roots of rock and roll goes back to the blues and you’ve heard it all your life, you just don’t know it ... We just need to get the word out to the people that you’re going to like this stuff.”

To increase attendance, the organizers plan to readjust their marketing strategy. Proceeds from the event help cover costs associated with making improvements at K.C. Geiger Park.

In other business, councilors

• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency ordinance levying special assessments for improvements to curbs, gutters, sidewalks and drive approaches for the 2012 street program.

• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency ordinance requesting the cooperation of ODOT for the reconstruction of the intersection of McKinley Road, Spruce Street and Fortman Drive within the city.

Councilors entered executive session to discuss possible real estate acquisition. No action was taken when councilors reconvened in regular session.

The next meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the city building located along East Spring Street.