ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Don Hooker and his daughter Sarah started the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival in 1998.
In a Facebook message posted Tuesday, Hooker noted the event has showcased roughly 300 bands and raised more than $1.4 million for local charities, but he cited rising costs, declining attendance, loss of sponsorship, and other financial factors as reasons for making the difficult decision to shut down.
"We’re not making enough of a difference in what we donate to the charities, so we thought it was just time," organizer Don Hooker told Fox 5 Wednesday.
The memories, however, will remain.
"James Brown came out of his trailer when he played there. Gave me $2,000 cash and told me to give that to the kids I do that for," Hooker recalled, before adding, "had a glass of wine with Ray Manzarek from The Doors, and we talked for about a half hour about Jim and the 60s. That was awesome."
And then there was that time with Aretha Franklin.
"She said she wasn’t going on unless she had a grand piano on stage. I had to send somebody to Baltimore to pick up a grand piano, and she played it for five minutes," he laughed.
Meanwhile, fans were devastated by the news. One wrote on Facebook, "my husband passed away 3 years ago & all the memories we made at your fabulous event are truly some of the best we ever made."
"They brought tears to my eyes," Hooker said of the comments. "We started off doing the festival to make a difference with charities, but we were really making a difference in the people that attend the festival as much as the charities."
The final Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival will be held May 21st and 22nd. For more information, you can click here.