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Rain not a deterrent for Blame My Roots concert goers

Carri Graham BLAME MY ROOTS — Crowds at the Blame My Roots Festival cheer as the first performer, Luke Burkhardt, takes the stage Friday evening.

MORRISTOWN — Overcast skies and rain did not deter people from attending the Blame My Roots country music festival Friday.

Although the third day of the event was met with dark skies, attendees said they didn’t mind and would stay rain or shine. Many people were ecstatic just to be back at the venue, able to attend live music following the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down last summer’s concerts.

Diane Fedorke and Donna Taskalines, both of Moundsville, came prepared for the impending rain. The two were seated underneath a canopy they had brought with them. Fedorke said the rain would not deter them from experiencing the long awaited show. Last year’s BMRF was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Fedorke said they had been long-time attendees of the Jamboree In The Hills festival prior to its end in 2018 and were thrilled when the Duttons opted to keep the country musical festival alive with the start of BMRF the following year.

“We just love it. It’s not over crowded, it’s clean, it’s well organized, it’s easy to park and you don’t have to do a lot of walking,” Taskalines added.

Something the duo were not so thrilled about was the new alcohol policy which was implemented this year. The new policy prevents attendees from bringing alcohol into the main stage area of the event — alcohol must instead be purchased from a beer tent. However, attendees are still able to BYOB in the campground and tailgate areas. Fedorke said even though they weren’t fans of the change, it wouldn’t stop them from attending the event.

“We’re old jamboree people so we liked it when we were able to bring in our own coolers. … We’re not crazy about it, I’m sure a lot of people aren’t but it won’t stop us from coming,” she said.

Erica Tenney of Martins Ferry said she thought the new policy may have been the cause of fewer attendees. Another couple, Garrett Berkey and Tiara Wentz out of Central City, Pa., said they were upset when they first discovered the news of the alcohol policy but it didn’t stop them from enjoying the festival.

“Being able to bring your own beer was a big part of this show but we’ll still come either way,” Berkey said.

First time attendee Allyson Minder out of Martins Ferry said she was just happy to witness live music.

“I’m just glad everythings open now and there’s something like this,” she added.

Shawn McKeen of Belmont said it was her second time attending BMRF and she was a long time attendee of JITH before that. She said she approves of the new policy.

“I think it’s OK, it’s a way to keep it safe and help support the venue. It’s nice too because if you want to, like we did, we tailgated a little bit up there before coming in,” she said.

Before the start of the evening’s first performer, concert goers made their way to snag their spot on the lawn in front of the main stage. The crowd cheered as Luke Burkhardt, a local performer out of Shadyside, took to the stage and kicked off the evening. Burkardt opened the show for Walker Montgomery, Adem Doleac, Jo Dee Messina and Neal McCoy.

Heather VanDyke out of Shadyside was one of around 20 people in her group that came to support Burkardt. Although it was her first time at BMRF, she said they had attended JITH for 15 years before its end.

“We’re happy to have live music. … We came prepared,” she said, gesturing to her canopy. “We’ll be here rain or shine, that’s how it was a Jamboree. It’s a good time,” she said.

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