Blues, barbecue and fun.
Henderson’s annual Handy Festival is back — and it’s bigger than ever.
Laughter and lawn chairs covered the area Friday as the community celebrated the 30th year of the four-day event. It's a long-awaited return to normal after the pandemic kept festival-goers from crowding the riverfront last year.
It's always been popular, attracting thousands of Tri-Staters eager to get a taste of some good blues and barbecue, but this year, the festive atmosphere is only intensified as the community says goodbye to restrictions and hello to a fun-filled summer.
One of the largest free music festivals in the country — let alone the Tri-State — this year’s event is bringing in more than a dozen blues acts and plenty of vendors.
“it’s a huge opportunity it’s awesome; we’re really excited about being able to do this," said Dan Todd, owner of Up In Smoke BBQ in Henderson. "This is our fifth year doing this down here.”
It's a summer event and Friday was a hot one, but the scorching heat did not keep one local from keeping up her tradition.
“Thank God that we got to be here," Janet Marcum said.
Marcum has been going to Handy Fest since 2009, and after a year hiatus, she’s thrilled to be back with family and friends at one of her favorite summer events.
“The music, it being free, the people are wonderful down here," she said. "I love all that and then fair food, I love the blues.”
It's a breath of fresh air so many are grateful to have after more than a year of pandemic concerns, giving everyone a chance to unwind, let loose and even reconnect.
“Being able to be back is so exciting," Todd said. "There’s a few people that don’t live here that are vendors that you only get to see whenever they’re here so you develop relationships as long as we have.”
If you haven’t made it out yet, there’s still one more day of blues and BBQ.
Handy Fest rounds out Saturday with music kicking off at noon. The final act will take the stage at 10 p.m.