June 15, 2017
The Blues From The Top Festival will return to Winter Park this month for its 15th year, celebrating music, food, drink and community.
The Festival will take place June 24 and 25 at Hideaway Park, and acts as a major fundraiser for the Grand County Blues Society, a local non-profit that supports various programs in the community revolving around music.
Headlining the event are Anders Osborne, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Little Hurricane and many more. And while the festival obviously emphasizes the blues, bringing in a wider array of music was a priority this year.
"I'm so excited about the different musicians that we're bringing in this year," said Maria Chaves, who produced and hired talent for the event. "Our festival is definitely an older crowd, and we want to expand it to younger people as well. The blues is a dying art, and we want to keep it alive and educate people about it. That's why we're also bringing in other types of bands."
Gates open at 10 a.m. on Saturday and close at 6:30. On Sunday the Festival runs from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30. There will be food and drink vendors, including a new sponsorship from Oskar Blues Brewing who is supplying the beer.
In between sets patrons will be treated by the Keeping the Blues Alive program, wherein young musicians ages six to 18 will perform on the youth stage. There will also be nightly shows after the festival at Smokin' Moe's Ribhouse & Saloon.
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While the festival promises to be fun, it is undoubtedly a bittersweet occasion for some as the festival's founder, John Catt, passed away last month.
"John Catt was a man who loved music, and he always had this magic way with his words that would summon people to help accomplish his dreams, in a really positive way," said Chavez. "Because of him hundreds of people are part of the Blue Star Connection program now."
The Blue Star Connection is one of the programs supported by the festival and run through the Grand County Blues Society. The program raised money to purchase musical instruments for children with life-threatening illnesses. It is currently active in over 55 hospitals around the country and internationally.
The festival also helps to support Blues in the Schools, a program which helps to immerse kids in the blues, providing education and entertainment to schools in Grand County.
The event is expected to draw around 2,000 people a day, and tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
"People should open their minds, and know that this is kind of Blues From The Top level 2.0.," said Chavez. "We're switching things up a bit, but it's still going to be a party."