Crowds ain't what they used to be. Just ask anyone who plans a festival.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society announced that this years' biggest celebration of blues, the Bluesfest, won't be taking place. While that is a bummer, you can still support the blues around the area, and attend the events that the Society will be part of. Going to their website or Facebook page is a great way to see what's going on, and also to help out.

Mississippi Valley Blues Society via Facebook
Mississippi Valley Blues Society via Facebook

One of the most important things you need to make a great blues festival is green. Attracting a crowd large enough to generate the funds to cover the costs is a challenge any year for the Blues Society. But the 1-2 punch of the reduced crowds for the last two fests left a pretty big hole where funding used to be.

Organizers are putting their efforts towards a big return next year, and that will be a great day. But I'm afraid that for the Bluesfest to keep on keepin' on, it's going to need funding from more than just the fans of the music. For this fest to return to the days like the ones depicted on their social media, I think a major underwriting sponsor needs to see its value to the QCA landscape, and step up with the budget necessary to run it.

The Blues Society is made up of a small but mighty group of music loving volunteers, who have called in as many favors as time and energy will allow to organize and operate events and fundraisers. And it's now clear that they've been doing it at a loss. The partners who have donated time and money need a little help too.

In my role as DJ-guy and planner of all sorts of events (Some successful, some not) I feel like there's a recipe for these kinds of events to thrive and grow. In the event world, if the event is not growing, it's dying.

Take a look at something like The John Deere Classic. It's a PGA golf tournament, but without John Deere on the letterhead--that tourney's days would be numbered for the QCA. The heft of a sponsor like that is untold--but it provides many opportunities for success, from actual funding, to volunteer recruitment and advertising. The Bluesfest needs funding along the same lines.

My guess is that the Blues Society is asking these same questions. They know that delaying the fest a year is a hopeful target and timeline to arrange the event, the needed sponsors and probably their last chance at reviving one of the area's great festivals. I hope they can--and I really hope one of the executives on the board at one of our great Quad City institutions has a secret love for the blues that makes itself known pretty soon.

Greg Dwyer

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