North Texas Daily

Fest brings the blues to Quakertown Park

Fest brings the blues to Quakertown Park

Fest brings the blues to Quakertown Park
September 24
11:33 2013

Christina Ulsh / Senior Staff Writer

Bright blue skies, mild weather and the smell of barbecue surrounded Quakertown Park, the site of this weekend’s 15th annual Denton Blues Festival.

The festival featured free, live blues bands and various vendor and food options.

“We usually come every year with the family,” resident Patrick Mallon said. “I think that just having the festivals and having something for people to do as a family or as a couple is a good thing for community building.”

As attendee Gregory Garden took a large bite from his hot Homeade Meals Creole plate, his friend Brenna Johnson said her favorite part was the fried chicken.

“The food is amazing,” she said.

Along with fried chicken, festival attendees enjoyed funnel cakes, snow cones, roasted corn, tornado taters, pound cake, catfish, frozen coffee, kettle corn, banh mi, beer, ribs and turkey legs.

“I know that Homecooked Meals can be a very great part of this event and we have been for the past two years,” owner of Homecooked Meals Catering Company Kevin Wheeler said as he battered two marinated thighs of chicken and dropped them in his boiling fryers. “When they come to my booth, they [are] ready to eat something that [makes them] feel like they [are] at home.”

On Saturday, Wheeler’s stand sold out of its Creole soul food, which included cornbread, greens, red beans, rice and brown sugar, bourbon-fried chicken.

Denton’s Arts and Jazz Festival hosts thousands of people, while the Blues Festival drew a couple hundred visitors, Johnson said.

“It’s a lot more intimate, it’s a lot more relaxed,” she said. “You’re not having to fight through crowds to find a spot and listen to music.”

The crowd gathered under any shade they could find, in front of the stages, behind the vendor booths, even across the bridge next to the library. Cuddling couples on blankets napped to the bluesy tunes. Children frolicked and danced along with the lively keyboard solos. A group of adults in folding chairs offered their mat to standing college students to sit on.

“We’re growing. People are learning about us,” said Frances Punch, volunteer coordinator and chair for the community stage. “We are trying to put their suggestions into our festival, [such as] the community stage showcasing local talent.”

The Denton Blues Fest is hosted every year by the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce, which is an organization that promotes business and entrepreneurship in Denton county for all races, colors and creeds, Punch said.

“Diversity. Blues Festival brings all kinds of people out,” recruitment and human resources manager for the Denton Fire Department Quentin Brown said at his booth.

Fara Gold, who just moved back to Texas from Connecticut, was thrilled to be attending Denton’s Blues Festival for the first time with her boyfriend, she said.

“[I like] the openness, the people, the smells. The smell of mesquite burning, I love that smell. [I’m] back in Texas,” Gold said. “We’re going to eat. We’re going to drink. We’re going to stay here until 10 o’clock.”

While some commended the free event for what it is, Josh Ewing sees room for improvement.

“They could do better [with the music]. We’ve been to Arts and Jazz Festival and it was really good, and this [festival] is getting there,” Ewing said. “A happy medium between the extreme Jazz Fest craziness and the very small blues thing –it’d be great if we could have something in between that.”

The city of Denton Black Chamber of Commerce hosts the 2013 Blues Fest. The event featured over 20 different blues bands. Feature Photo by Edward Balusek / Staff Photographer 

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