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Columbia Pike Blues Festival returns this summer, back to be fully in-person

The Columbia Pike Blues Festival is back to being fully in-person for the first time in three years.

The mainstay Arlington music festival, which is put on by the Columbia Pike Partnership in partnership with the county, will take place on Saturday, June 18 from 1-8:30 p.m.

All of the performances are set for the Pike’s main stage, unlike the last two iterations of the festival. While neither was officially canceled, the events were completely or partially virtual due to the pandemic.

This year’s version will feature headliner Shemekia Copeland — the Blues Foundation’s 2021 “Entertainer of the Year” — as well as Eric Scott, D.C.-based Robbin Kapsalis & Vintage #18, local band Shakin’ Woods, and Anthony “Swamp Dog” Clark.

Local vendors and restaurants will provide food and drinks, plus there will be beer from New District Brewery and a wine list curated by the Pike’s Rincome Thai.

There will be a “Kids Zone” and an “art alley” along 9th Road S. featuring the Arlington Art Truck and work from the Columbia Pike Documentary Project.

2022 is being marketed as the festival’s 25th anniversary due to the format changes over the last two years. The first Columbia Pike Blues Festival was held in 1995.

Beyond Saturday’s day-long festival, a number of other events are being planned over the weekend to celebrate the event’s quarter century anniversary.

On Friday, there’s set to be a special blues festival performance at William Jeffrey’s Tavern. For Sunday morning, a Juneteenth history walk led by the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington is being planned. There will also be live music at the Columbia Pike Farmers Market and at Café Sazón on Sunday morning.

To finish the weekend, there will be a free screening of the 1980 musical-comedy “The Blues Brothers” at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse.

The Columbia Pike Blues Festival is the largest blues festival in the D.C region, according to its website. It often prompts some neighborhood road closures. Upwards of 7,000 people have attended past festivals.

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