TERRE HAUTE —
Supporters of Terre Haute’s Blues at the Crossroads Festival were definitely not singing the blues Monday.
A cheer went up in the Terre Haute Board of Public Works and Safety conference room after the five-person board voted without opposition to approve a plan that will continue to provide access to downtown businesses during the festival, which is set for Sept. 14 and 15.
Last month, the Board of Works adopted guidelines for closing city streets and sidewalks for festivals and parades. Those guidelines state that businesses and residences affected by any temporary street closings should remain accessible to the public. Supporters of the downtown Blues festival, which charges admission, worried those rules might stop the event.
Dozens of festival supporters, many wearing blues festival T-shirts and some carrying blue balloons, attended the board meeting Monday afternoon in City Hall to show they back the festival, now in its 13th year.
Brooke and Mike Horn, who have worked at the blues festival for several years, were at Monday’s meeting sporting Blues at the Crossroads T-shirts. Concern for the future of the event brought them to the meeting, they said.
“Just seeing that many people come from all over the state and surrounding states actually come to Terre Haute for something” is a rare thing worth supporting, said Mike Horn.
Festival founder and organizer, Connie Wrin, said the large number of supporters at the meeting was a spontaneous outpouring of support organized by festival backers on Facebook, the social media website.
“This is what Facebook created,” Wrin said. “I didn’t start this. This was started by people who support the festival.”
The plan approved by the five-person Board of Works Monday was submitted by the directors of the blues festival. The plan states that gate personnel will allow access to the downtown festival area without charge for people not intending to attend the festival. However, those people will be asked to provide their names and addresses and also the name of the business they intend to visit.
“People can object” to providing their names and addresses, Wrin said later Monday, adding that gate personnel have no authority to force someone to provide such information. “That’s more of a deterrent. We’re just hoping that people are honest, which most people are.”
To distinguish payers from non-payers, those buying admission to the festival will receive wrist bands. The plan approved Monday also calls for signs to be posted at each gate to the festival stating that there is no charge to simply visit a downtown business open during the festival.
Another change this year is that the hours of the festival have been shortened on Saturday. Now, instead of the gates opening at noon, they will open at 3 p.m. The admission price for Saturday has not yet been determined but is expected to be less than last year’s $20 charge, Wrin said. That change will help make the festival more affordable, Wrin said.
Admission on Friday will remain $10, she said. Gates open at 6 p.m. on Friday.
“The plan that was submitted addresses concerns of the city,” said Bob Murray, Board of Works president in a brief statement immediately before asking for a motion to approve the plan. The board then voted unanimously in favor of the plan.
“We were always okay with a plan like this one from the beginning,” Murray said after the meeting. “We’re in favor of a lot of activity downtown.”
Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.