It’s been ten years since the Business on Belgrade Association started Blues on Belgrade, an event that has become a big draw for music lovers and a way to attract business to downtown North Mankato.

Jim Whitlock with Business on Belgrade says the inspiration behind starting the Association in 2004 was a 40-percent vacancy rate of storefronts in the business district.

“I coined the phrase, it was turning into rats and weeds down there and that’s not what I wanted,” said Whitlock. “What I did was, I just went into every business and introduced myself and just said, after explaining what I kind of wanted to do, would you support it, and they said yes. So then I had to really kind of come up with a formula of what are we gonna do, what do we wanna do. That’s kind of how we started. But, for the first four years we really never gained any traction.”

The Blues on Belgrade concert then began in 2009 as a blues and jazz festival for residents. It was first held in the parking lot behind the Circle Inn, now the site of the Marigold building.

“When we first started, it was the Belgrade Avenue Blues and Jazz festival for 2009 and 2010. Then in 2011 when we turned the stage around and encompassed that intersection of Belgrade and Range (Street), that’s when it became the Blues on Belgrade. We dropped the jazz, but the Blues on Belgrade then alliterated with Business on Belgrade as BOB.”

The tenth annual Blues on Belgrade festival will be held Saturday in downtown North Mankato with music from noon until 11 p.m. The event is free to the public with food and beverages available.

The 2018 lineup includes the Echoes, Funktion Junction, Lisa Wegner, City Mouse, Lamont Cranston and the Jimmy’s.

For more information on the event, head to https://www.businessonbelgrade.org/.

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Photo courtesy of the Business on Belgrade Association.