Blues & Barbecue: Handy Fesetival Kicks Off

Local News

Many call it the best music festival in the Bluegrass.

With the blues belting and barbecue baking, it’s hard to argue.

The 26th annual W.C. Handy Festival kicks off Wednesday night along the Ohio River, drawing hundreds of people at Henderson’s Audubon Mill Park.

Set-up was damp in the afternoon after a round of storms pounded the Tri-State.

Some came hours early, just after the rain to stake out a spot. But a little rain isn’t the worst some of these dedicated fans have seen.

Brent Storey comes from Washington, Ind., and is making his 15th-straight year of Handy Fest.

“My mom grew up doing music, playing fairs, so I grew up around music and always liked it,” Storey says.

Other folks near the front have been coming downtown for almost two decades, like Geoffrey Dell from Mt. Vernon, Ind.

He remembers years past, battling the elements, but sticking out the wet weather.

“Sometimes the rain comes through and then they start things back up,” he says.

Storey says it’s all about expecting the worst.

“It doesn’t really matter what it starts out like when I leave the house,” he says, “it could be raining, it could be cold, it could be really hot.”

Event officials say the Handy Fest has become one of the largest free music festivals in the nation.

All the money made goes right back to making it free next year.

More than a dozen bands are still on the lineup that continues though Saturday in downtown Henderson.

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