DDA to host free family zone at Alpena Blues Festival

The countdown is on: The Alpena Blues Festival is less than a week away, taking place this Saturday, June 22, 2019.

This year will be the first year the longstanding Alpena festival will be held downtown– yep, the street will be closed and downtown will be filled with live blues performances from noon to midnight, including acts Coco Montoya, Way Out Wayne and the Neckbenders, and more. If it couldn’t get any better– the Fresh Palate will be hosting the first-ever Spirit of the Blues tent, where attendees can sample craft liquor and spirits from over 20 Michigan distilleries from 3- 9 pm.


The Alpena Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will also be partnering with the festival and hosting a free Family Zone from 12- 4 pm. Located just outside the main Blues Festival area, the DDA Family Zone will be completely free and located in front of the State Theater on Second Avenue.

The area will have free activities for all ages from 12- 4 pm, including the following:

  • 12:30 pm: ArtPOP with Art in the Loft, a free, hands-on art activity
  • 1:30 pm: Storytime with Justin Christensen-Cooper and Griffin James
  • 2:30 pm: Kid’s Dance Class with Thunder Bay Theatre

There will be ongoing activities including a sidewalk chalk area, bubbles, and a special collaborative graffiti wall. The graffiti wall will be hosted by the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library through a grant they received from the Michigan Humanities Council through the Third Coast Conversations. When adding to the graffiti wall, they ask participants to weigh in on and draw inspiration on the theme of water: what it means to us and our community.

A second collaborative art project will also be taking place during the afternoon, where attendees can paint a portion of the Fill a Plate public mural. A key part of the Alpena Blues Coalition, the organization behind the Blues Festival, has been to stamp out hunger through the collection of canned goods at their festival. At the Family Zone, for either a cash donation or donation of canned goods, participants will have the opportunity to paint a paper plate, symbolizing filling the plate of someone in need. Decorated paper plates will be on display for the duration of the Family Zone and then at Art in the Loft to visually showcase the amount of plates filled by the generosity of our community at the Blues Festival this year.

“I wanted to create something fun and interactive to help raise awareness about hunger, something artistic that would visually represent donations made to help stamp out hunger,” said DDA Marketing & Outreach Coordinator Kingsli Kraft. “Art is a universal language and I think the symbolism of filling someon’s plate is powerful. It’s a fun incentive for someone to donate money or canned goods to the cause.”

We hope to see you downtown this Saturday to join in the Alpena Blues Festival activities!

The Alpena Blues Festival will take place Saturday, June 22, 2019 on Second Avenue and have live performances from 12 pm- midnight. The Fresh Palate will be a craft spirits tent from 3- 9 pm within the festival highlighting over 20 Michigan craft distilleries. Tickets  $25 and gets you entrance to both.

The Alpena Blues Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2003. We are committed to pursuing, preserving, and presenting music, The Blues in particular, in support of educational and charitable purposes.  We are a 100% volunteer organization.  100% of the support we receive through sponsorships and the festival are used to produce the festival and support our causes.

Anne Gentry is Executive Director of the Alpena DDA and graduated from Brown University with a BA in Comparative Literature. Make sure to follow the blog on facebook, insta, and share with a friend.


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