DUNEDIN — If folks in Dunedin talk about singing the blues this weekend, they're probably talking about the 22nd Annual Dunedin Wines the Blues Festival.
The Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association organizes the Saturday evening event, which started in 1992 and has grown in size and popularity ever since.
Come early Saturday to claim a spot and set up your blankets and chairs. For the past several years, an estimated 30,000 people have attended the festival, which features Florida blues musicians but also blues artists from around the country and wines from around the world.
"This year we'll have three bands — two local and one national. Plus, we're stepping it up a bit and adding some liquor drinks to the choices at the festival," said Trina Cooney, president of the merchants association and owner of Flanagan's Irish Pub.
Forty arts and crafts booths and a food court will line Main Street downtown. Bands will be on the stage in Pioneer Park as wine and cocktails are sold at tents there.
"The wine tents will be set up in a row so people can buy tickets, then get their wine without having to walk everywhere," Cooney said.
Main Street will be closed to all but foot traffic from Alt. U.S. 19 to Louden Avenue. Parking is available in several lots and side streets near the event.
Three bands will take the stage, beginning with Florida's own harmonica legend, T.C. Carr, and the All Star Bolts. He will be followed by the Lauren Mitchell Band, which recently won the Suncoast Blues Society's Regional Blues Challenge and will compete in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Last, Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers will take the stage. Thackery co-founded the Nighthawks, played with Muddy Waters, and is an internationally known blues songwriter and guitarist.
There is no admission fee for the festival. Ticket prices for wine and liquor drinks will vary. IDs will be checked.
If one day of blues is not enough for you, get an early start with a jam by invited blues musicians from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday in Pioneer Park. It's sponsored by the Suncoast Blues Society.
Dunedin Wines the Blues shows no signs of slowing in popularity, perhaps because "every year we strive to make it bigger and better than the year before," Cooney said.
"I believe the reason this event is so popular is because downtown Dunedin works hard to offer people as many fun and cool things as we can," she said. "Everyone knows when they come to a downtown Dunedin event, they're going to have a good time."