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Blues Blast's future now more certain as crowd shows support

LAKE GEORGE A large, appreciative crowd turned out Saturday and Sunday for a weekend full of blues music presented by acclaimed musicians in the Villages Shepard Park. Lake George Blues Blast organizer Bob Jackson said the crowd, which might be the largest ever, truly appreciated the depth and range of music presented by a dozen blues performers. The crowd response was truly phenomenal, he said. This was two days of the best music this village has ever heard, and everyone was so thrilled. With blues greats performing eight hours per day on both Saturday and Sunday, the free-admission festival received more than accolades from the audience it received support from the crowd, through dollars and ideas. Jackson, whos been running the festival on a shoestring, got up on stage and made a plea for sponsors, informing the crowd the continuation of the Blues Blast was uncertain without a financial infusion. People responded, volunteering ideas for sponsorships and fundraising, he said, noting that some were upset about the festivals future was at risk. Several people were in tears they said please, please, youve got to keep it going, he said. But they offered good ideas for raising money, and now I have people lining up funds for next year. Jackson has run the festival on program advertising revenue, sales of Blues Blast mementoes, grants of several thousand dollars from local occupancy taxes, and money from his own pocket. He has pulled off the festival for six years now along with the work of his partner Marilyn Hedrick. The festival has an approximate annual budget of $25,000. This years festival may end up paying for itself, Jackson said, noting that clothing bearing the Blues Blast logo the primary revenue source for the event had sold out. It looks like everything may be okay for this year, he said. Saturday, the fest had a healthy crowd, and Sunday, the audience thinned out temporarily while it rained but returned when clouds dissipated. Jackson said he is looking forward to offering a stellar lineup in 2009. The Blues Blast will continue to grow if I can pull it off again, he said. I love blues music, and I love the village.

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