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Festival mixes 'soulful' music and beer

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Patty Reese performs for the crowd as part of the musical entertainment during the Brew and Blues Festival held in Front Royal on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Crowds line up to sample the many different types of beer during the Brew and Blues Festival held in Front Royal on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Jeff Wilbur and Brian Wilbur hold up their India Pale Ale Heavy Seas beer during the Brew and Blues Festival held in Front Royal on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Crowds enjoy the many different types of beer and good weather that occurred during the Brew and Blues Festival in Front Royal on Saturday. Andrew Thayer/Daily

The Brew & Blues Festival drew a crowd in Front Royal

By Preston Knight pknight@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- When the options are whittled to two, there is a strong chance you will pick one right for you.

Everyone could be considered winners Saturday at Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce's second annual Brew & Blues festival downtown.

With cooperative sunny weather, people were either there for the numerous craft beers or the soulful music. Or, better yet, they came for both.

Catherine Freedberg and Don Nelson, who were visiting from Falls Church, split the difference; she cared more for the tunes, while he sought out some refreshment. Blues are authentic, Freedberg said, while Nelson said brews with a pleasant aftertaste are king. He gave Old Dominion Brewing Co.'s Oktoberfest his seal of approval.
"This is good," Nelson said.

Jacqui Caine, of Fredericksburg, was tasting the same because it's the season, she said. The music was just as attractive to her and her husband, Tom, who said Jazzfest in New Orleans frequently has them in attendance.
"We're big fans [of blues]," Mrs. Caine said.

Town resident Doug Allison would like to put his ears on what is played in Louisiana -- he's never been -- but what he could find in Front Royal on Saturday satisfied him enough. The blues bring back memories, he said.

Interesting enough, the genre of music was paired with something that often erases memories.

But drinking to the point of headaches is not what the festival aims to do -- it's about offering a variety of beers that ordinarily would not be available.

The brewing companies in attendance had crafts from Hawaii, Oregon and Belgium, among others.

Those in attendance could sample beers if they were hesitant to try a full one. Cat Ballard, of Front Royal, was encouraged by that. She currently has a fruity beer fix, she said, but was trying different ones with her friend Kristin Frankel.
"We're not connoisseurs," Ballard said.

If the festival continues to grow, maybe that will change. The success of the local wine festival attracted the Caines for the day, so they figured Brew & Blues would be worth their drive.

They were among the contingent who came out as winners on Saturday.
"We like the music that comes from the soul," said Mena Cunningham, who was in attendance with Allison. "When you sing it, you can feel it."

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