From the miscellaneous drawer - Cheers for the Blues Festival

by Anne Swenson

Even the most unseemly people can have a fire burning within them.<BR><BR>It may be a passion for quilting or baseball, for snowmobiling or music. Whatever it is, if it is a passion to be shared a person steps out of the crowd or out of the rut to make it happen.<BR><BR>Ely is fortunate to have so many of those passionate people. They’ve drawn attention to their interests, started events or projects in motion, and with determination and follow-through have enriched our lives. <BR><BR>The Ely area now has multi-use trails, an active arts community, unique baseball facilities, festivals and performances.<BR><BR>Recently I attended a few hours of the Boundary Waters Blues Festival, held on the grounds of the Ely-Winton Rod and Gun Club’s Longbranch facility which commands a terrific view of Fall Lake.<BR><BR>When I arrived there I wondered to myself why I hadn’t gone to Blues Festivals in past years. The Longbranch grounds were a perfect place. The stage was set up professionally. There was plenty of area in which to park and you could choose to set up your chairs wherever you were comfortable. It was not too crowded nor was it too noisy.<BR><BR>The audience ranged from children a few months old right on up to folks in their 70s or 80s. A white-haired couple jitterbugged, younger folks danced to the music and children played around their parents and friends. People greeted each other and chatted.<BR><BR>There was one performer, Reneé Austin, most of my group were hoping to see. Unfortunately the power blew out in the area and we left before it was repaired since it was a chilly night.<BR><BR>Were we disappointed? Somewhat, but the time spent at the Blues Fest had still been worth the entry fee. We listened to Austin’s new album “Sweet Talk” on the drive home.<BR><BR>From the stage we had been told that the Blues Fest was in jeopardy because some folks oppose the gathering. That’s a shame. The musicians are professional and the setting is great. <BR><BR>The event benefits the upkeep on the Longbranch (no easy task as I remember from being a member in the past) and acquaints visitors with the small town I called home for many years.<BR><BR>Never have I found a community more caring about each other and concerned about its children than Winton. This two day festival is something of which they can be proud.<BR><BR>On Sunday I drove up to Hidden Valley. With quite a bit bulldozer work, Hidden Valley could be adapted to similar events. There’s a building there which could be used for food and beverages. Behind the building is a natural amphitheatre and behind that is the bowl which was the landing area for ski jumpers.<BR><BR>Congratulations and thanks to the foresight of Mike Jankovec and his many helpers, assistants and volunteers. You’ve done the area proud and you’ve enriched our lives.