The Cincy Blues Fest is an annual music event that is centered around world-class blues music performances. It takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio and was formerly known as the Queen City Blues Fest. In 1993, it became the Cincy Blues Fest. The event features well known international blues music performers as well as emerging regional acts.
The scenic banks of the Ohio River create the perfect backdrop for the music and festivities that are a part of the event. Several stages are set up throughout the venue, including a "themed" stage, which features a new theme every year. There is also an annual 'Cincy Blues Challenge,' the winners of which perform on the main stage.
Artists like Lonnie Mack, Big Joe Duskin, Otis Rush, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, Bob Seeley, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the Chicago Blues All-Stars, and Bobby Rush have performed at Cincy Blues Festival in the past. The shows typically begin in the evening and go on until midnight. It is produced by the Cincy Blues Society and organized entirely by volunteers, making it one of the largest volunteer-run Blues music festivals in the country.
Festival-goers can choose between General Admission and VIP tickets. They range in price from $15 for General Admission tickets to $60 for VIP Seating Admission tickets. Guests can become a member to avail benefits like discounted tickets and merchandise. There is also a veterans program through which free passes are provided to veterans for every $20 donation made.
Children under the age of 12 can enter for free and lower-priced passes are available for children between the ages of 13-18. Take a look at the official festival website for more information on tickets, schedules, and pricing.
Cincy Blues Fest takes place at Smale Riverfront Park in Downtown Cincinnati. Within the park, the Schmidlapp Event Lawn is where the performance areas are set up. A landmark to look for is the Moerlein Lager House which is right by the venue. Detailed driving directions are provided on the festival website. Typically the site is also updated with information regarding road alerts or closures on the days of the event. Keep in mind that, depending on your starting point, you may cross the Ohio River one or more times during your travels in the area; bridges are RV-friendly but may be congested in some areas due to general traffic. Be sure to check it for any weather or road warnings or call 511 before starting on your trip.
There are a few paid parking options close to the venue. You can opt for a covered parking garage or park at one of the open lots. Metered street parking is also available throughout the downtown area. Be sure to get to the venue early, and remember to look for sections of the street that do not allow parking. If you will have a larger camper, note your height and length before choosing a parking option.
You can get to the venue using Ohio's fixed-route bus service, The Metro. The nearest stop is walking distance from the site. Another option is to use the city's streetcar system, the Cincinnati Bell Connector. Local campgrounds and businesses may also offer shuttle services on the days of the event.
Onsite camping options are not available at the Cincy Blues Festival. Book a spot at a campground or RV park nearby in advance. This close to the Ohio River, not only are you able to see across the water directly into the neighboring State of Kentucky, but you may want to look for campgrounds over the state line.
There are a number of campgrounds within the city limits, and there are a few well-equipped options within a 15-mile radius of the venue. However, you'll need to drive further away to enjoy the area's lush forests. Many of the campgrounds are situated right by the water, so you can enjoy fun outdoor activities and also enjoy facilities like full hookups, complimentary WiFi, laundry facilities, and onsite convenience stores. Cincy Blues Festival often retains a list of campgrounds near the event as well.
You'll need to get around on foot since bikes, scooters, ATVs and other personal motor vehicles are not allowed. The venue is ADA compliant, and patrons with mobility needs can use wheelchairs and scooters to travel. However, keep in mind that there are many grassy areas that can become difficult to navigate if it rains.
In July, most festival attendees will be wearing lightweight warm-weather clothing. Go dressed comfortably in t-shirts, shorts, or cotton summer dresses. Taking a rain poncho along is always a good idea in case it rains in Southwestern Ohio. You're likely to be doing a lot of walking around, so wear well-fitting flat footwear.
Carry a small bag or backpack packed with a few essentials like sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, sunglasses, and a lightweight blanket. Small, low-backed folding chairs are allowed. Leave a little room in your bag, in case you feel like picking up some of the commemorative festival merchandise on offer. If you plan on exploring any of the outdoor scenes or playing in the water near your campsite, don't forget items related to those adventures.
Lack of proper hydration is one of the main causes behind medical emergencies at music festivals. So drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks to grab a bite or sit down in a shady spot. Stay close to your group and designate a common meeting spot in case somebody gets separated.
Cooking or bringing in outside food will not be allowed at the festival site. Open flames might not be permitted in Ohio campgrounds during certain times of the year when they pose a fire risk, so be sure to check with your location before arrival. However, you can always use a portable grill or the stove in your RV to cook up a delicious chili or put together sandwiches.
The downtown area has a thriving food scene that is culturally diverse. Travelers will find some excellent Japanese and Mexican food, as well as great breweries to grab a pint. Be sure to try the French Pot ice cream and the mouthwatering Cincinnati-style chili before you leave the city. Several options are within walking distance of the Cincy Blue Festival site in case that may be easier than making multiple stops.
Booths will be set up throughout the park with delicious food on sale. There will also be a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to choose from at this eclectic event. You will need to be over the age of 21, with a valid ID to purchase alcohol and sales will close one hour before the end of the event.
As the event has grown with time, security measures have been stepped up exponentially. Private guards and police officers will be responsible for maintaining order in and around the festival grounds. All your bags and belongings will be searched before entry, so make sure you're not carrying any prohibited items when arriving for the Cincy Blues Festival.
The festival will go on rain or shine. In the event that it does rain, small handheld umbrellas will be allowed, but large ones are not permitted. If severe weather does visit Southwest Ohio, measures are in place to get patrons and staff to safety. Any weather-related postponements or cancellations will be announced on the festival's website and social media pages.
There will be first-aid services available onsite, provided by trained medical professionals. Reach out to the nearest festival staff member or volunteer if you or someone you know requires medical attention. Medically necessary items and food will be allowed in with the proper documentation on a case by case basis.