Few fans were singing the blues Thursday night as the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival opened its three-day run in downtown Davenport, chased by Mississippi River floodwaters from its normal home in nearby LeClaire Park.
The 29th annual event was moved because the fourth flood in recent months had left the condition of the park uncertain. As a result, vendors, volunteers and the blues lovers are scattered along a few blocks of 2nd Street to listen at one or both of the stages featuring blues artists from all over the country.
Among the blues fest regulars is John Loos of Muscatine, who was in attendance Thursday with family members and his new bride, Katy.
"Last year we didn't make it, but I have for many years," he said. "Actually, I am excited for a change. It is nice on the river, but I do like change. So far, I like it."
Loos' aunt, Gerry Bermel, also of Muscatine, also is a regular.
"I have come all 29 years, never missed it," she said, holding her granddaughter, Bianca Cabrera. "I always took my girls and now they are 21 and 19 and they are here too, and they love it, too."
Bermel said she was uncertain which venue — LeClaire Park or downtown — she likes better. But in a way, it doesn't matter.
"We would still come no matter where it is," she said. "Of course, we love the park."
Julie Reyes is vice president of theblues fest, sponsored all 29 years by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. She expected about 7,000 people to have passed through the gate once Thursday's performances concluded.
"This is a good-size crowd," she said. "Most wait 'til the sun goes down to come out."
Before 7 p.m., people were packed in front of both stages, some finding shade while others battled the bright sun.
Sylvia Runkle of Rock Island is a regular blues fest volunteer. But Thursday night, she was in the audience, enjoying the music with friends.
"I saw one show and it was absolutely great," she said.
Jana Rose and her son, Rawley, 5, of Rock Island, were excited that Thursday was the opening day of the three-day event.
"I have been here every single year. I look forward to it," said Rose, trying to hold on to Rawley's hand. "My dad is part of the Blues Society. Whenever I am in town, I come.
"Rawley loves the lemonade. He loves to bring the glow sticks out at night and play with the other kids."