Giving Hunger the Blues 2016 organizer has big plans for new location

Giving Hunger the Blues, one of Sarasota’s longest running annual music festivals, is moving from Hillview Street to the waterfront grounds of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall after being held as a block party for nearly two decades in Southside Village.

“I’m confident that this iconic location will offset the disappointment of Giving Hunger the Blues leaving Hillview Street and Southside Village,” says Peter Anderson, who became the event chair of Giving Hunger the Blues in 2015 following the event going on hiatus in 2014. “The familiarity of the venue through many seasons of Friday Fest speaks to its appeal, especially considering the record-breaking crowd of the past event with Jah Movement.”

Anderson originally planned to keep the festival on Hillview but the new spot, along Sarasota Bay, will allow Giving Hunger the Blues to expand for its 20th year when it takes place October 30. In addition, the music festival has formed a partnership with the Sarasota Arts and Culture Alliance’s “Inspire Sarasota” as one of its calendar events. Giving Hunger the Blues tickets are $10 in advance (available on the festival’s soon to be launched website www.givinghungertheblues.com) and $15 at the gate, with children 12 and younger admitted for free.

“Due to the closure of the Osprey Avenue Bridge and subsequent detours, we were initially denied our application to close Hillview Street for our 20th annual event,” Anderson says. “We quickly shifted gears and were able to work out a favorable agreement to move the event to the Van Wezel.”

Giving Hunger the Blues will be expanding the format of Van Wezel’s Friday Fest series to include a larger footprint with three stages of live music, a Five O’Clock Club VIP lounge, a sponsor lounge and multiple sponsor locations. In addition, to make room for more lawn seating, there will be a vendor area adjacent to the main entrance. An expanded kids zone on the bay will include games and attractions, and the festival’s popular youth stage as well as food vendors for the family area.

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