I had the pleasure of working the Chicago Blues Fest on Friday June 8th. Being a Chicago resident, I’m slightly ashamed to say I had never been until I was assigned to work. However, knowing what the many other Chicago festivals have had to offer, I had pretty high expectations that were definitely met.
It was an early morning to say the least, arriving at Grant Park at 8:30 to set up. We had a pretty cool area including our tent with giveaways along with our car with a sweet blues mix on blast. We were left with a lot of downtime before the festival started and by downtime I of course mean intern bonding with the sponsor items in the sweet photo booth set up by Magnolia.
The festival started an hour or so later and was packed from the start. Most of the crowd consisted of older adults looking to get their blues fix. I spent most of my shift outside the tent passing out the XRT buttons – a highly yearned for annual giveaway. This year’s buttons were bigger and better according the many people who approached. It was great to see the people whose faces lit up at the sight of them exclaiming things like “I literally came here just for this button” and “I’ve been listening to this station since before you were born.” What was even cooler was to see the actual proof of these repeated phrases with a slew of extremely dedicated fans proudly displaying their collection of pins from past festivals (one man had 26!). It’s meeting people like these who remind me how lucky I am to be working at a XRT.
Along with the overly excited XRT fans, we of course had some booth visitors who definitely kept us on our toes for the day. One person in particular told me he could simply not take a button from me because my mother was over the age of 50 and happily married. To say that people watching in Chicago is interesting is an understatement. Whether they took my button offerings or not, I still enjoyed meeting all the festival attendees (but lets be honest, I’m pretty sure we had every person in Grant park sporting our buttons by the time our shift was over.)
In all, the Blues Fest was definitely a success and a great introduction for myself in working larger events and its attendees. It was great to see so many people who are passionate about music gather together for the weekend, especially those who belong to the wonderful XRT fandom.