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Blind Willie festival draws huge crowd

Out of the record 1,200 people who attended this year's Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival, there's a good chance that every one of them had a ball.

The sixth annual blues festival, held just north of I-20, welcomed into McDuffie County a robust crowd eager to see award-winning pianist and show closer Marcia Ball. And they didn't go home disappointed.

"We had a lot of people who weren't maybe hardcore blues fans, but were Marcia Ball fans," said Executive Director of Forward-McDuffie and Activities Council member Don Powers.

I think that's what made the attendance go up as well, and I know that's what made people still until the end, because she was the last performer."

He also said that there were a large number of people in attendance who traveled from all over the state to see the show. Typically, Blind Willie draws around 1,000 people. This year, Mr. Powers estimated that number to be anywhere from 1,200 to 1,300. He also attributed some ticket giveaways in the Augusta area to the increased attendance.

"We estimated that we had about 1,000 paid (tickets), and that typically is between 650 and 800," he said. "Food and drink sales were also the highest they've ever been. We got some crossover audience that stayed until the last act that had a positive effect everywhere. Attendance was up, so people stayed longer and bought more stuff. From an attendance and vending point of view, this was the biggest yet."

Organizers aren't resting on their laurels -- they're already busy planning for next year's festival.

Activities Council member Charlie Knox said getting bigger acts on the bill is something organizers are going to try and continue to do for future festivals.

"We don't specifically know who we're going to get (for next year), but we've got some ideas along those same lines that will continue to draw a more diverse crowd -- we see a lot of the same blues fan that come every year, and they're going to come regardless -- but we'd like to still stretch it out a little bit," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, June 17, 2004

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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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