BluesFest Wraps up for 2013

Dozens of concert-goers waved white flags Sunday afternoon while Glen David Andrews bounced around the Heritage Music BluesFest stage – but they weren’t surrendering to the end of the three-day festival.

Andrews prompted the crowd to join him in waving towels, napkins and whatever else they could find to “bring a little bit of New Orleans” to Wheeling as he danced and played trombone during his late afternoon set. Despite the threat of rain, the crowd danced along, capping what was one of the biggest events in the festival’s history.

“I was a little down about Friday, because it seemed like maybe the rain kept people away,” said festival organizer Bruce Wheeler. “But Saturday, there was a steady stream of people all day.”

Wheeler said Saturday – which featured Grammy award-winning and hall of fame musicians Joe Louis Walker and Dr. John – was the single largest day in the history of the event. Despite the large crowd, the atmosphere at the festival remained calm and inviting, which Wheeler said is typical.

“This crowd is here to have a drink, listen to the music and have a good time,” he said.

Wheeler said officials at the McLure Hotel in Wheeling, which serves as the host hotel for guests, have routinely complimented the attendees as being the largest group of “good people” they see each year. That creates a friendly atmosphere inside the festival as well, Wheeler said.

Sunday’s lineup featured IBC and Selwyn Birchwood, Harrison Kennedy, Andrews, Southern Hospitality, Ruthie Foster and JJ Grey & Mofro, who closed out the festival in grand fashion.

Wheeler said over the next month, he and his staff will look back at this year’s festival to decide what worked well and what could be changed before beginning planning for next year.

“We’re always looking at what we can do better,” he said.