Restrictions lifted, Kent shakes the pandemic blues with the Kent Blues Fest

image of franklin avenue, a red brick street with long picnic tables scattered down the street. People are sitting at the tables enjoying drinks and chatting. The sky is overcast.
Asha Blake/ The Portager

In Downtown Kent on Saturday, Portage County turned out to hear live music during the largest local festival since the pandemic began. Although the day was rainy and cloudy, hundreds of people attended the Kent Blues Fest.

Becky Boyd & The Groove Train performed at Belleria. Some guests stood by the entrance to hear the band play. Asha Blake/The Portager.

Performers such as Becky Boyd & the Groove Train, Raw Sugar and Memphis Candle played songs throughout the day. Because of the rain at the beginning of the event, a few bands had to go to alternate locations to keep their instruments and equipment dry.

Luther Trammell plays his guitar for people in the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center. He sings songs that he wrote and makes the crowd laugh with his witty banter. Asha Blake/The Portager.

The collection of artists made Kent sound lively. Some bands could be heard from outside of their location, which entertained both people inside and outside of the venues. Their songs meshed and echoed together all through downtown.

Chris Hanna, a Becky Boyd & the Groove Machine member, entertains the crowd in Belleria Pizza. Asha Blake/The Portager.

In all, there were 23 venues with 33 performers playing in those locations. The venues varied from cafes and restaurants to bars and stores.

Occasionally, some venues had people waiting outside to go in because of the number of customers they already had. People waiting outside spent time either listening to the music inside the building or talking to their friends and family members.

Main Street Kent has the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) which allows people who are 21 and older to buy alcoholic beverages for outdoor consumption.

The event lasted from 1 p.m. to 12 a.m. with more residents coming out as the rain stopped and the night progressed.

Marijuana advocates drove around asking Portage County residents to sign their petition to legalize the drug. Asha Blake/The Portager.
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Asha Blake is a contributing photojournalist for The Portager.

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