Arts & Entertainment

Blues returning to Ritzville

RITZVILLE -- Who knew a tiny little town like Ritzville would have renowned blues performers eager to be a part of the town's annual Blues Festival?

"(Musicians) come to us, they want to play here," said Sandy Hansberry, the event's director. "The hard part is deciding who we're going to have because we have so many that want to play here."

This year's festival starts rockin' July 12 in downtown Ritzville, which is about 85 miles north of Tri-Cities.

Headlining this year's event will be the 2008 BB King Entertainer of the Year, Tommy Castro, along with The Fat Tones, The Blues Orbiters, Dikki Du and The Zydeco Krewe, Whisperin' Palms and The Rockin' Jake Band.

And that's only a sample of the musical brew scheduled to perform starting at noon.

Gates to the downtown festival area open at 9 a.m. There will be a main stage on the street with several indoor venues at bars and restaurants.

Cost in advance is $28 for adults and $20 for ages 13 to 20. At the gate, the price goes up to $35 for adults and $25 for students. Kids 12 and younger are free.

Tickets are available by phone at 509-659-1936 or in Tri-Cities at ABCD's New & Used CDS, 211 W. Kennewick Ave.

The Ritzville Blues Festival, which started 15 years ago, was organized as a way to lure visitors to the small Eastern Washington community that has a population of less than 2,000.

"A music festival seemed like the perfect new event that would be fun for the locals and appealing to visitors," Hansberry said. "The first show was much smaller than the current event (a few hundred people). Attendance now is typically 2,600 to 2,800."

For more information about the performing bands and schedule of events, go to