Organizers bringing Blues Festival back to its roots

Ozaukee Press Staff

Paramount Blues Festival organizers have announced they will be hosting the musical event in Grafton this summer.

The festival was approved to be held in Lime Kiln Park July 23 and 24 by the Grafton Parks and Recreation Board last month, but Paramount Music Association organizers only recently committed to the location.

Approval of the event is contingent on the nonprofit organization acquiring a liquor license for the event and following safety recommendations from the Grafton Police Department.

The first Paramount Blues Festival was held in Lime Kiln Park in 2006 and continued there for another nine years, but has been hosted in Port Washington and Fredonia in recent years.

The event’s return to Grafton will coincide with the 105th anniversary of Paramount Records, a recording company with ties to Grafton that is credited for producing historically important blues music. Records were pressed at a location in Grafton and  the record company’s main office was in Port Washington.

Festival founder and Paramount Music Association founder Kris Raymond said organizers thought the 105th anniversary is the perfect time to return the festival to its roots.

The association also held an online survey on its Facebook page asking where the public would like the festival held this summer. Raymond said results of the survey were without doubt leaning toward Grafton.

“Between those (results), the text messages and the emails we’ve gotten, it was clear to us that people would really like it if we brought it back to Grafton so that’s what we’re doing,” Raymond said.

Historically, attendance has been stronger when the festival has been held in Grafton. Raymond said while switching the event to Labor Day weekend when moving to Port may have hurt attendance, that the festival in Port would typically see between 200 and 300 each day where the festival in Grafton would see closer to 700 in a day.

She added that this year will be the first time the festival is held in July and she is unsure if that will boost attendance.

When the festival first moved to Port Washington, Raymond said many people were disappointed because they were not aware of the city’s connection to Paramount — instead assuming the record company only operated in Grafton.

“I know that when people think Paramount, the first thing they think of is Grafton,” she said.

Realizing this perception, Raymond said organizers began looking for educational opportunities at the festival to better inform attendees about the history of the company. This year, in addition to an assortment of blues acts, there will also be educational programming and take home information.

The event would open to people of all ages and feature locally, regionally and nationally recognized musicians. Food and merchandise vendors would be stationed throughout the park, music classes would be held for families and an art play area would be set up for children.

The festival will likely be held in the upper level of the park. No road closures are anticipated, but handicap accessible parking along the front of the park is requested.

Music will be played from 5 to 10:30 p.m. on July 23 and from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on July 24. Beer and alcohol sales will run from 4 to 10 p.m. on the 23rd and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the 24th.

A lineup of musicians is still being finalized.

Sponsorships will determine whether admission will be needed for the festival.

Raymond said her nonprofit is fundraising for the event and is looking for sponsors to assist.

For information on sponsorships email or call Raymond at 208-6288.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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