Marquette Area Blues Fest to end in 2024

What's happening: The Marquette Area Blues Society, the organization that created and organized the annual Marquette Area Blues Fest, announced that this year’s event will be the final festival. Known as one of the largest blues festivals in the Upper Midwest, the Marquette Area Blues Fest is a three-day festival held in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park over Labor Day weekend. Organizers cited increased costs and retaining volunteers as the reasons behind the decision. The society, however, will continue operations in the hopes of promoting the blues as an art across the U.P. 

Ending on top: The society was able to end the three-day festival on its terms and its standards. The organization noted other events in town during that time have not been helpful to the festival. The increase in student activities at Northern Michigan University over Labor Day weekend takes away younger volunteers. The Marquette Marathon is growing as well, attracting runners from around the country because it is one of the last Boston Marathon qualifiers available. Attendance has greatly increased the average cost of hotel rooms in the Marquette area, pricing out some of the people who want to attend the Blues Fest.

What they're saying: “We are a small, but dedicated and passionate group of blues lovers, and to put it bluntly, we’re not getting any younger. Most of us have been involved in planning and executing the fest for the entire twenty years, and over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult to host and present the festival to our standards,” the society said in a release announcing the ending of the festival. “While we are proud of our many years of success in supporting and presenting blues music in the Upper Peninsula, we also must acknowledge that ‘the times they are a ’changing.'" 

What's next: The society looks to continue its other ongoing efforts with local, blues-centered concerts at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette and plans on expanding to more locations across the region. The organization is already looking at various venues in the U.P. to host a quarterly concert with national-touring blues acts and local artists. 
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