It was a proud moment for Dean Bach as he took in the scene around him Saturday inside the Rockin' Blues tent set up outside his restaurant, , as part of the annual .
The drew a record-breaking crowd of about 1,000 guests and brought in $11,637 for the two charities the Blues Fest supports — double what the tent normally raises.
“I just sat there at the end of the night, looking around, going 'Wow,' ” he said. “With a couple tears coming down my eyes, for sure.”
All of the ribs were eaten (1,200-1,500 pounds), and every drink and side dish was devoured. Bach said great weather, and plenty of buzz about the event contributed to its success.
“It was the perfect storm for the perfect party,” he said, adding that he has no doubt the event's success will continue. “Now we've got a bona fide annual blowout on our hands. Even with whatever weather we might get next year, it's not going to get any smaller than it was.”
The rib-tasting contest and all-day concert outside Dino's on Saturday was just one portion of the 9-day festival's success this year. Festival co-chair Craig Covey said funds are still being collected and counted, but he said it's already clear that the nine-day event saw a “large jump” in funds raised.
“Our estimates are of an increase in receipts over last year of more than 30 percent,” he said. “We had more venues and more events and more people than last year.”
Each festival venue had a "hungry blue pig" piggy bank where guests could make donations. The festival donates 100 percent of its proceeds to local charities: Ferndale Youth Assistance and . Sponsorships also increased, Covey said.
Final numbers won't be available for a couple of weeks, he said.
Organizers decided to . “I think it reflects the diversity that is already here,” Covey said of the change. The festival featured from Jan. 27-Feb. 4.
New musical options this year included dance, big band, house and electronic. The festival also included events in Hazel Park and Royal Oak Township, along with several new venues in Ferndale.
“Adding other forms of music did add to our venues — and to the funds raised — at locations such as , , , and the ,” Covey said.
Good marks from police
Despite the added crowds at downtown Ferndale locations, Chief Timothy Collins said police saw no increase in incidents during the Blues Fest dates, including no noise or parking complaints in the downtown area.
“They ran a good show,” he said. “If we don't have to go, then it's a good show.”
Chris Hughes, communications manager for the , said the event seems to have been a success.
“We love the Blues Festival. I think it went well,” she said. “They do a great job.”
She said the festival has its own vibe that is a nice addition to the area.
“I think the Blues Festival is a great addition to downtown Ferndale, and whether it's just a little thing going on somewhere or it's a big deal, it has its own little vibe, and it brings a special vibe to town,” she said, adding that she has heard from a few local businesses that were happy about the added foot traffic last weekend. "That's the overflow benefit."
Blues Fest organizer Ann Hubbarth said attendance was definitely up.
“We had many people at the venues,” she said, adding that the mild weather helped. “The mild nights were wonderful. Personally, I think there was a great selection of blues acts playing at different locations, as well as other music. People had a great time.”