BRADENTON, Fla — The annual Bradenton Blues Festival is only five weeks away and has created quite a name for itself in the blues community. Known for consistently pleasing sellout crowds and stimulating the local economy, the festival draws thousands of attendees from across the state, country, and globe. This year, the festival has expanded into a true weekend event with a free Blues Appetizer concert on Friday, Dec. 2, the Bradenton Blues Festival on Dec. 3, and the Blues Brunch on Dec. 4. Festival organizers are encouraging pre-event online ticket sales as the festival and blues brunch will sell out.
Now in its fifth year, the Bradenton Blues Festival has put Bradenton on the map as a hub for the blues. Blues musicians, like Doug Deming from Detroit, MI, are moving to the area, Blues Music Magazine is located within walking distance of downtown Bradenton, and live-music blues venues like Ace’s Live and Blue Rooster are at capacity nearly every evening. The International Blues Foundation has taken note and will host their annual board of director’s retreat in downtown Bradenton on Nov. 4–5, 2016. The International Blues Foundation houses the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, TN, and is directed by a board of 23 individuals from Canada, Norway, and across the U.S.
“To have the Blues Foundation host an annual board retreat in downtown Bradenton acknowledges that Bradenton has the blues, and is becoming a desired destination for businesses,” said Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton, the nonprofit behind the Bradenton Blues Festival. “The Bradenton Blues Festival unites area-based businesses and organizations to support a common cause. These forward-thinking companies and organizations join us in celebrating Bradenton’s cultural distinctiveness. They understand that the arts and cultural industry is big business and events like the annual Bradenton Blues Festival are integral in how we promote our region to the world,” Isham explained.
Last year’s Bradenton Blues Festival attendees hailed from 8 foreign countries, 25 states, and 225 zip codes from the state of Florida. Since the festival’s inception in 2012, attendees have traveled from 41 states and over 12 foreign countries, including a blues-lover that travels over 4,900 miles from Germany every year.
More importantly, the Bradenton Blues Festival’s sellout crowds fill hotels, restaurants, and businesses with patrons who are eager to enjoy Bradenton’s unique assets. Local businesses and individuals believe in the impact of the annual blues event, and the 60 sponsors that contributed over $200,000 to the production of the 2016 festival reinforce that commitment.
The driving force behind the Bradenton Blues Festival is Realize Bradenton, a small but mighty nonprofit that loves the Blues as much as they love the City of Bradenton. Recognized as Nonprofit of the Year in 2016 by the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce, Realize Bradenton is community-benefit organization that generates an estimated $3 million annual economic impact. Of the 75 annual events that Realize Bradenton produces, the Bradenton Blues Festival is the only event the organization charges for admission. Proceeds from the Bradenton Blues Festival support Realize Bradenton’s youth, art, and music programs that are free to the community, including their Blues in the Schools program.
For more information about the Bradenton Blues Festival, visit BradentonBluesFestival.org.