The Mount Baker Rhythm & Blues Festival, now in its 19th year, began at the River's Edge Christmas Tree Farm, a local property in Deming, says founder Lloyd Peterson, which was ideal for a one-day get-together.
Moving to the Deming Logging Show Fairgrounds in 2006 opened up the festival to accommodate two or three thousand music fans, says Peterson.
"Any event which brings the community together is important," he says. "After winning the Blues Foundation's highest award, 'Keepin' the Blues Alive,' in 2013, our neck of the woods was thrown into the international limelight."
Yet Peterson says most music lovers in this area aren't clued into the festival attitude.
"Most see it as a concert and any will ask, 'Which day should I go?'"
But Peterson says the event is tailored for "building energy" throughout the weekend, with each artist adding another highlight to the weekend's energy.
Headliners this year include Elvin Bishop, the Chris Eger Band, The Fat Tones, the Ori Naftaly Band, Billy Roy Danger, the Mark Whitman Band, the Steepwater Band, and Josey Wails.
About half of the fans now hail from Canada, he says.
"It's always held on their long-weekend (British Columbia Day is Monday, Aug. 4) by design," Peterson says. "So, on Monday, they leave the Deming Logging Show Grounds and head to various Whatcom County businesses to shop, creating a pretty substantial increase in local businesses. Win-win for everyone."
The festival has camping facilities with running water and RV hookups, a place for after-hours jamming, and even have a "roots gospel" service Sunday morning - all the things that make it possible to essentially create a sub-culture of blues lovers for the weekend, Peterson says.
Peterson says he's recognized everywhere he goes by folks who attend, particularly at other blues festivals around the country.
"It's a close-knit family in the blues community, and for our efforts we are welcomed with open arms. By traveling to other events and areas of the country, we get to see amazing talent. Many times, we like what we see and book the artists for a forthcoming show."
At some point, he says, he hopes to create a nonprofit to keep the festival going with sponsorship money from corporations that want to donate to nurture the arts.
MOUNT BAKER RHYTHM & BLUES FESTIVAL
When: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 1-3
Where: Deming Logging Show Grounds, 3295 Cedarville Road.