This weekend: Winter Park Jazz Fest adds new talent, sounds for 36th year |

This weekend: Winter Park Jazz Fest adds new talent, sounds for 36th year

The 36th annual Jazz Fest will be at Hideaway Park this Saturday and Sunday. Last year's event drew a large crowd and featured artists like Charlie Wilson and Jessy J.

This weekend, along with the usual bird chirping and tree rustling, the sweet sounds of soul will fill downtown Winter Park.

The 36th annual Jazz Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hideaway Park with R&B artists Fantasia and Keith Sweat headlining.

Catherine Ross, director of the Fraser & Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, said tickets are almost sold out and she expects 3,000 to 4,000 people a day at the festival. The shows will play rain or shine this weekend, so Ross recommends festival-goers bring a raincoat.

This year’s headliners are new to the festival, but veterans Boney James, Eric Darius and Mary Louise Lee will be returning this year to round out the lineup. The other featured artists include Sheila E., a newcomer to Jazz Fest, Norman Brown, Damien Escobar, Avery Sunshine and Dotsero, a Denver favorite.

Ross said the chamber is excited to bring a wide range of talent to this year’s audience.

“We’ve upped the talent one more time this year,” Ross said. “The day of music is lots of different sounds, which I think for a festival is really important, and we have lots of different types of jazz going on.”

Jazz Fest will also feature several food and retail vendors for festival-goers to enjoy in between sets, as well as new tasting booths for adults from Idlewild Spirits and local wineries.

Ross said the festival has historically been very successful in ticket sales and at bringing people to the Winter Park area to enjoy local businesses and features by being very audience-centric.

“We work really hard making sure the audience tells us what they want,” Ross said. “We have a wonderful, lovely audience, a loyal audience that comes every year, and we’re excited to host them every year.”

After parties will take place on Saturday evening, including one at Headwaters Event Center starting at 8 p.m. after the festival closes and will feature live music, a DJ and food and drinks.

Ross said she hopes this year’s festival will be bigger and better than previous years and contribute to the good summer Winter Park has seen thus far.

“The reason we keep doing it is because people love it and we love audiences being happy,” she said. “We’re always excited that people love this music.”

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