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Blues, Brews and BBQ a toe-tapping good time

CHAMBERSBURG - Brien O’Donnell, 43, drove from New Cumberland to the Capitol Theatre’s annual Blues, Brews, and Barbecue celebration Saturday. Shouting to be heard over the joyful noise of The Kelly Bell Band from Baltimore, he said “it was worth the trip.

“I like the music…it’s really good,” O’Donnell added.

By late Saturday afternoon, the fundraiser for the popular local theater was a teeming, dancing, head-bobbing mass of every demographic from 20-somethings to a number of white-haired figures who remember when the earliest songs in KBB were released.

Kelly Blue Band was voted “Best Blues Band in the Mid-Atlantic,” according to the pamphlet supplied by the theater. The event also featured Grammy-nominated blues singer/songwriter Randy McAllister from Texas and bluesman Eric Steckel from the Lehigh Valley.

Not to mention barbecue from Hempen Hill BBQ from Hagerstown, Maryland, and local Rib-bins BBQ, and brews provided by Ace Distributing.

Good music, beer and barbecue of any kind are a kind of magic potion, apparently. There was a lot of grinning and hugging to go along with the toe-tapping.

Josh Fox, catering coordinator for Hempen Hill, said his outfit is not just a participant, but a donor to the theater.

“This is our sixth or seventh time coming here,” he said. “We pay our vendor fee, of course, but we also donate a percentage of our sales to the theater. Last year that came to $500.”

Fox said he was pleased to see the annual festival growing steadily.

“Two years ago, I think they had about 700 to 800 people show up,” he said. “Last year it was 1,300, and I think they’re on track for about that many this year.”

Beth Thoresen, public relations manager at the theater, said it was heartening to see so many people having a good time and supporting the cultural treasure that is the Capitol Theatre.

A man who would only identify himself as Tom stood at the fence separating the festival from the sidewalk with is bicycle. He said he liked to come listen to the music when the festival was on.

“The music is good, really good,” he said. “And this is the biggest crowd I have seen so far.”