The Blue Plum Festival has the potential to become a truly significant regional event each year, akin to the size and scope of festivals such as Belle Chere or Rhythm & Roots. The quality of the bands organizers bring to the musical line up is excellent, and I appreciate there’s some diversity to the genres, though more would be optimal. Blue Plum also includes lots of vendors, and have events for runners, bikers, urban artists and children.
As for suggestions for improvements, there are two things organizers can do to really amp up the festival’s regional relevance factor. One is to bring in truly big-name national acts for the headliners on Friday and Saturday to draw in people from across the region.
Another is to offer a fourth stage that features only local musical acts (of all types) and have that area also dedicated to featuring other local visual and performing arts.
Bringing in well-known national acts would obviously require a serious bump in sponsorship dollars, but we have some large corporations/organizations in the area who might be willing to pay in order to be associated with nationally known acts. It may also require a nominal ticket fee being charged to access the concert area, where access to other areas might still be free.
A local arts stage/area could be done with little additional sponsorship, and it’s something every local musical act I know would like to see happen. We have such an amazing array of local talent here in the Tri-Cities.
A third and final suggestion would be to increase communication and planning transparency with the local community.
Speaking as a local musician, I find the Blue Plum Festival’s musical planning process to be a complete mystery. Several times over the past few years, I’ve tried to contact them via their published email address to find out how to be considered for inclusion, only to receive no reply whatsoever.