Blues Fest to offer local, international performers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2005

Butler County artists and artisans along with the talents of far-flung performers will all be a part of the upcoming Sweet Gum Bottom Blues Fest. The festival is slated for Oct. 15 and 16 in downtown Greenville, in the parking area between Herbert and Commerce streets.

The event is being sponsored by Greenville Main Street, the Greenville Area Arts Council and a number of local sponsors.

Gifted caricaturist Bill Jackson will be back to create clever drawings during Family Fun Time, slated for 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

"Even though Bill has moved to Georgia, he called us and said he wanted to be a part of our festival. We are very excited to have him join us again – he is always a big draw (if you'll pardon the pun)," Nancy Idland, Main Street director said with a smile.

A number of local artists and craftspeople will offer "high-quality" work for browsers and buyers, along with visiting vendors bringing handmade jewelry and homemade jams and jellies.

Mosiac art, pottery, fall wreaths, wood crafts, and other handcrafted items will be offered to attendees.

Children will also have the chance to create their own crafts.

A special Blues Fest cookbook will be available, Idland said, along with souvenir t-shirts, posters, can huggers and straw hats.

Cowboy rope trick artist Bruce Brannen returns to Greenville on Oct. 15, along with magician Gary Ledbetter of Dynamite Magic and Balloons of Montgomery. Local talents Matt Shepherd and Ben Nelson and his band will take the stage Saturday morning to entertain the crowds.

Musicians from across the country and Canada will perform in the acoustic competition beginning at 2 p.m., with a plugged in show scheduled to close out the night. Admission – $7 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under – is charged for the blues competition and evening concerts. Award-winning blues performers Willie King and the Liberators and Little Jimmy Reed will be featured in the evening show.

On Sunday, a free gospel concert featuring Bill J. Brooks of Mississippi is slated for 2 p.m. at the Ritz Theatre.

During the Blues Fest, Idland promises plenty of fabulous southern cookin' "sure to make you good lookin.'"

"We have a great weekend planned. We want to encourage everyone to come out and join us and enjoy all the wonderful things Blues Fest has to offer," she said.

For more information, go to or call Nancy Idland at 382-8729 or 354-2802.