LeClaire Park Gets The Blues Again, As Blues Fest Returns To Davenport
You’ll be happy to get the blues this weekend, as Mississippi Valley Blues Fest 2023 will be held Saturday and Sunday at the historic LeClaire Park in Davenport, Iowa. Gates are open 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
As always, the festival features some of the finest blues musicians from around the country, as well as the popular BlueSkool (to teach the young ‘uns about this historical and rich musical style), over 10 food and merch vendors, and more.
The MVBS put on its first Blues Festival in LeClaire Park in July 1985 and has been honored by the National Blues Foundation as the Best Blues Society in the country three times – in 1988, 1993, and 2014.
LeClaire Park has been the primary home of the Blues Fest since its inception. However, in 1994 and 1995, the fest was held in Moline along the Mississippi River, where the Western Illinois University campus is today. Flooding forced the MVBS to move the festival out of LeClaire Park to other spots in Davenport in 1993, 2001, 2008, 2013, and 2014.
The MVBS presented the annual festival around the July 4 weekend every year until 2015, when financial challenges forced the event’s cancellation. Moving the festival weekend to Sept. 5-6, 2015, at LeClaire Park, away from its traditional July dates, helped avoid the possibility of flooding along the river. The festival returned to July in 2016.
In 2014, the Blues Fest earned a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis for Best U.S. Festival. One of the main reasons for the award was the MVBS’s endurance in overcoming many years of relocating the festival due to flooding.
The festival helps fund blues education programs and musical programs throughout the Quad-Cities year-round.
The MVBS has “one of the most active Blues Education programs of any Blues society in the United States,” according to its website, noting that MVBS plans and coordinates four to nine weeks of Blues in the Schools each year.
A typical week-long residency includes 10-12 performances and workshops in schools, libraries, and/or community centers in the Quad-Cities and surrounding areas. Each artist also provides an open-to-the-public presentation for all ages. All performances are free and expose a wide array of the community to blues music’s rich history, heritage, and sounds.
To become a member of MVBS – which includes 15% off the entire store, complete access to the video vault archive, exclusive discounts with partners, discounts to events, and a member collectible monogram pin – visit www.mvbs.org/become-a-member.
For tickets to Blues Fest, visit www.mvbs.org/blues-fest/.