KENT — Mother Nature bestowed the 11th annual Kent Blues Fest tonight with a lovely gift of mild temperatures and plentiful sunshine.

An itinerary of places to visit wasn’t needed: all one had to do was follow their ears. Many area music acts could be heard throughout downtown Kent, either playing outside in the Hometown Bank Plaza or Acorn Plaza, or inside any one of Kent’s numerous venues. People could be seen strolling leisurely down the sidewalks, or seated at tables or benches, talking with friends, enjoying food or beverage and, above all, listening to the music.

Teddi Nowak of Aurora said she came last year as part of a girls’ weekend.

“I just love the music and being outside, and all the people,” said Teddi, who attended this year with her husband Michael, who came to the festival for the first time. “It’s just a great atmosphere.”

Richard “Poppo” Weiner of Kent, of The R&D Duo, said that “the weather is perfect.”

“There are a lot of people around,” Weiner said between songs. He and Doug Bender of Cuyahoga Falls, the other half of the duo, played just outside Burnside Barbecue.

As the evening progressed, more and more people flocked to downtown Kent, several carrying lawn chairs. Kim Culver of Ravenna and Kathy Mitchell of Twinsburg found a bench near the Hometown Bank Plaza before Evolution: The Clapton Tribute played.

“It’s nice today,” Culver sad.

“It’s relaxing, and the blues! Oh my!” said Mitchell.

“Oh gosh, yes,” Culver agreed.

In all, the evening featured more than 30 acts in 26 locations throughout downtown Kent.

“We are thrilled to be marking the 11th anniversary of this event, thanks to the support of the Kent and Northeast Ohio community, and the city,” stated Mike Beder of the Crooked River Arts Council, which produces the festival, in an earlier media release. “The Kent Blues Fest is our flagship event, and it’s the biggest music festival held here. And, as always, it’s all free, thank to our generous sponsors.”

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423,, or @AprilKHelms_RPC