22nd annual Baton Rouge Blues Festival brings in record attendance

The 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival wrapped up on April 10 after a full weekend of perfect weather in downtown Baton Rouge. Thousands of attendees were treated to a variety of music from 39 performers over four stages, ranging from legends performing Baton Rouge swamp blues to up-and-comers performing blues rock and everything in between. Thirteen artists were interviewed during Backstage at the Blues Fest, giving attendees the chance to hear impromptu performances and stories from the performers in an intimate setting. Videos of these interviews will be available for viewing at batonrougebluesfestival.org in the coming weeks. There was a fantastic turnout in the Old State Capitol lobby, host to nine bands playing 45-minute busking-style sets with about 100 attendees at the peak of the day. The Raising Cane's Kids Zone featured activities for the kids to participate in and enjoy from partners like BREC, Raising Cane's, Air Seekers and the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. An additional 12 food vendors, 12 art vendors and nine general vendors rounded out the full weekend, providing something for everyone of all ages to enjoy. 

Of this year's event, festival chairman Chris Brooks says, "The 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival made history in downtown Baton Rouge, bringing in record attendees from all over the world—including as far as Perth, Australia. We were thrilled to see the level of appreciation for and inspiration from our swamp blues heritage, from performers and attendees alike. We are even more excited to do it again next year. Personally, I am extremely grateful for all of the hard work and effort put forth from the festival committee. In addition to this committed group of volunteers and the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation board of directors, this year's success would not be possible without the support of Mayor Kip Holden and the City of Baton Rouge, Sergeant Craig Russell and the Baton Rouge Police Department, generous community partners and numerous volunteers. We look forward to seeing all of you out there in 2017!"

Notable facts:

  • Based on visual observation, crowd density based on area square footage calculations and prior experience, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival estimates attendance to be nearly 50,000 people throughout the weekend at or around the festival site.
  • American Routes, produced in New Orleans with Tulane University and distributed by PRX—Public Radio Exchange, was on hand to record several performances and interviews for an upcoming program this summer made possible in part by Amerigroup Louisiana.
  • The 2016 festival was made up of 20 steering committee members, nearly 250 volunteers devoting approximately 2,175 man hours throughout the weekend, over 24 festival photographers/videographers, 12 food vendors, 12 art vendors, 9 general vendors, 48 performers and 53 partners.
  • Bike Baton Rouge parked a record-breaking 182 bikes at their free bike corral.
  • 2016 showed a 73% growth in overall festival revenue from past years. All proceeds generated benefit the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to promote, preserve and celebrate the swamp blues music native to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

The Baton Rouge Blues Festival is a great experience for all ages, races and income levels that can only grow larger each year. If you would like to help ensure a successful future for the festival, please consider making a tax-deductible donation here.

As organizers continue to review feedback, planning for next year has already begun. Mark your calendars now for the 2017 Baton Rouge Blues Festival on April 8-9, 2017.

(Photo by Jordan Hefler)