by Joe Sylvester
The Briggs Farm Blues Festival has been growing each year, and the three generations of the Briggs family running the four-day event are looking for ways to accommodate that growth while still maintaining a family atmosphere.
They are planning some changes, but nothing that will affect the family feel of the festival, the organizers said.
The festival, now run by three generations of the Briggs family and about 50 paid employees on the nearly 240-year-old family farm, draws some 7,000 music lovers over four days each July. About 2,000 of those fans camp in tents or campers on the grounds. About 50 vendors sell their wares from jewelry to clothing in the main thoroughfare between the main stage and the Back Porch Stage.
The festival operates the food tents, where the menu includes specialties such as slow-smoked pulled pork, southern fried catfish, Briggs’ mac-n-cheese with stewed tomatoes and fresh-picked, fire-cooked sweet corn.
Richard Briggs, who started the festival in 1998, and his wife, Alison, said their venture has grown each year without fail.
“Our audience increase from 2018 was around 15%,” said Alison.
“To deal with and handle all that growth, we simultaneously need to be conscious of that family-friendly feel,” said Maegan Beishline, who works on ticket sales and social media. “That’s been an interesting challenge as we’re coming down the pike.”
One thing they want to make sure of, though, during the nearly yearlong planning, is that the growth is incremental, and that it is compassionate.
“We are continuously mindful about the experience of the people who come here,” Beishline said. “It’s something that feels more like a big family gathering than it feels like a corporate music festival. It’s why more people are more passionate about coming here year after year.”
Tickets go on sale online on Tuesday, Oct. 15 for the 2020 Briggs Farm Blues Festival, which is set for Thursday through Sunday, July 9-12.
Those early ticket sales are at a lower price than those purchased closer to the event. The Briggs offer various packages for one or multiple days and camping.
“Because this is family-owned and family-run, that comes across to the people,” Alison Briggs said. “They know this is our backyard. We have full control over what happens.”
She said an announcement of changes will come sometime before Oct 15.
Beishline did hint that some of the changes could be in the venue’s physical appearance.
“We have been over in the festival field every Monday, Wednesday and Friday measuring how would this feel if the stage were here, how does this feel, walking the field and getting a feel for how our audience feels out there,” she said. “We want any changes to be well received and they feel this is better.”
“We’re looking at everything, vendors, RVs, porta-potties,” Briggs said.