Friday, July 5th, 2013 at 11:00am
The festival began in 1987 as the Rose City Blues Festival – a concert to support the homeless, sponsored by the Cascade Blues Association. Performers included John Lee Hooker, the Paul deLay Band, Curtis Salgado, Norman Sylvester Blues Band and Lloyd Jones Struggle.
But the countdown of the annual blues festival begins in 1988 when Oregon Food Share, predecessor of Oregon Food Bank, became producer and beneficiary. That year, the festival raised $7,500 and 650 pounds of food.
In 1991, the festival was renamed the Waterfront Blues Festival.
Artist Gary Houston has been creating unique works of art for the festival each year since 2001.
During the past 24 years, the festival has grown steadily in size and reputation and is recognized as the nation’s premier blues festival. Since 1988, the festival has raised more than $7 million to benefit Oregon Food Bank. The 2011 festival raised 110,454 pounds of food and a record $930,000 to fight hunger in Oregon and Clark County, Wash.
The festival has also received numerous awards. In 2011, Essential Travel magazine, based in London, listed the festival as one of the Top 10 USA Festivals. In 2009, Outside magazine listed the festival as one of the Top 10 Outdoor Festivals. The festival is the winner of the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the international Blues Foundation and the recipient of the Ovation Award from the Oregon Festivals & Events Association as Oregon’s Best Festival, Civic Celebration or Community Event.
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