Fest draws diverse crowd

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The smell of crawfish

and Kenny Browns&8217; slide guitar sounds easing through the cool evening air kicked off the 11th annual Natchez Blues festival with style.

Lil&8217; Jimmy Reed, Rex Pruitt and Friends, the Neal Family, and the Radio Renegades were just some of the bands that treated Natchez with live performance in this year&8217;s event.

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People traveled from all over the world to take part in a unique event alongside the Mississippi River.

&8220;This is my first time in the (United) States

and I think it&8217;s great,&8221; Amsterdam native Femke van der Wijke said.

&8220;I feel it&8217;s better than being in New York or any big city because everyone knows those places so well.&8221;

The festival, which started in Memorial Park 11 years ago, continues to grow and attracts more new faces with each passing year, local business workers said.

&8220;I think it&8217;s good for the businesses because it brings in tourist and people have a good time,&8221; manager of Bowie&8217;s Tavern Lawrence Smith said. &8220;I have seen the business grow with the event in the few years I&8217;ve been down here.&8221;

At the Amtrak stage in Rosalie&8217;s Bicentennial Garden Saturday, bands performed

to scattered people lounging underneath the shade of the garden trees.

The cool breeze blew turning the heat from the sun into a comforting warmthwhile vendors sold food, drinks and T-shirts.

&8220;It&8217;s been an excellent environment for the people coming in,&8221; festival worker Jim Bazemore said. &8220;Once the people get here they aren&8217;t leaving because the music and the weather have been perfect.&8221;

The event offers enjoyment for everyone, even those who have never been to Natchez.

&8220;It&8217;s good to be back in south Mississippi and the music sounds better out here in the open air,&8221; festival performer Kenny Brown said. &8220;This is my first time to come to Natchez; I finally got to come down here, and I love it.&8221;

The performances will continue at 11 a.m. today at Main Street Market Place. Music and food will be served

throughout the day and the festival will wrap up at Club 601 around 7 p.m.

As for the success of this year&8217;s event, some say it was perfect.

&8220;It&8217;s the most people I&8217;ve seen at the event in two or three years,&8221; festival attendee Faye Bazemore said.