BISBEE — Music fans filled Old City Park in Bisbee on Saturday for the “Blues in Bisbee” festival, an event featuring a lineup of internationally known bands, along with local artists.
Couples, children and families danced in front of an outdoor stage, lounged in lawn chairs and stretched out on blankets while they enjoyed cool weather and overcast skies as they listened to the bands perform.
Saturday marked the first blues festival for Juan and Betty Villegas of Tucson, who were in Bisbee for Juan’s birthday.
“We’re really enjoying the music, the beautiful weather and just the whole atmosphere here,” Betty Villegas said. “I used to come here in the ‘70s, back when this was still a booming mining town. I love the way Bisbee has transformed itself into this fun, quirky tourist town.”
Organized by the Easterseals Blake Foundation, some 2,500 people were expected to attend the festival, said Foundation member Barbara Franklin.
Bisbee’s hotels, bars and restaurants were filled with visitors, while food vendors lining Brewery Avenue were kept busy.
“We’re having awesome weather for this,” Franklin said as she glanced at the crowd. “The cloud cover is keeping everyone cool and we’re seeing great people from all over the country. They love Bisbee, the entertainment, restaurants and vendors. Everyone is really happy.”
Brian and Melinda Shamas were visiting Bisbee from Columbus, Ohio while on vacation.
“We had no idea we were going to be here for a music festival,” Brian Shamas said. “This is such a cool little town, and this event is so much fun. We’re planning to stay for a couple of days, so today we’re enjoying the music and vendors, and we’ll be hitting the shops and doing the sight-seeing thing during the rest of our stay.”
Kadie Luther and Cathy Chavez said they left Tucson’s 103 degree weather to attend a “perfect event with perfect weather.”
“We’re having a lot of fun,” Chavez said. “We love Bisbee and always have fun when we come here.”
This is the second year the Blake Foundation organized the event, which featured such names as Melissa Reaves, a “blues-inspired rock ‘n’ roll musician” who has toured across the country and internationally.
“All of our artists are really talented, but as we move into the evening headliners, Cat Daddy, Melissa Reaves and Bad News Blues Band are the big draws,” Franklin said.
All money raised through the event stays in Southern Arizona, Franklin said.