A letter from the producer.

Dear Big Muddy Blues Festival fans,

The 16th annual, Big Muddy Blues Festival is this weekend and there have been a few questions on why all of sudden the event has an admission fee.  As Executive Producer of this event, I felt it is my duty to explain to our fans the reasoning behind this new format.

The unfortunate truth is that since the recession, each year our sponsorship funding has decreased. Big Muddy is a Labor Day weekend tradition for so many Blues fans throughout the Midwest and it is important to us that we maintain the event at the same great level it has been at for so many years.  In order to do that, this year we have come up with a partial-pay-for admission model.  The two side stages located at Morgan St. and Lucas St. remain FREE and open to the public.  The Budweiser Main Stage has a general admission fee of $8.00 per day (advance purchase), $10.00 per day (at the gate – cash only) and a limited VIP seating section for $25.00 per day grants you a seat in front of the main stage with cocktail service throughout the event (advance purchase only).

The main stage area will be fenced off all the way out onto N. First St.  There will be two entrance/exits on the north end and south end of N. First St.  A wristband will allow you in/out privileges at the main stage so you can also enjoy the side stages throughout the day.  Attendees can bring folding chairs but are asked not to bring any coolers, grilling equipment or outside food/drinks, festival staff can confiscate these items at their discretion.  All parking lots will remain accessible throughout the event.

Going from totally free to partial pay, we wanted to keep the admission price as reasonable as possible, similar to what you might pay as a cover charge at most Blues clubs.  Big Muddy is presented by, Laclede’s Landing Merchants Association, a nonprofit 501c6 organization.

We thank you all for being such great supporters of Big Muddy Blues Festival throughout the years and we look forward to seeing you this weekend!


Emily Kochan
Executive Producer, Big Muddy Blues Festival


22 responses to “A letter from the producer.

  1. Am I mistaken in believing that at least SOME of the funding for this event comes from taxpayers?

  2. Big Muddy is fully funded by grants from Missouri Arts Council, Regional Arts Commission, Laclede’s Landing Merchants and Corporate Sponsorships.

  3. God bless you all for continuing to bring great music to the world in a time when we most need it. A bit of a ticket price is a small thing to pay to bring happiness to hearts and souls.

  4. Still wondering why the man who played with Muddy Waters, Big George Brock, isn’t playing in the Big Muddy Blues Festival.

  5. Hi Emily,

    I just bought my VIP passes for Saturday & Sunday. I think this is a good idea. Many years I got to the festival early and staked out a spot near the stage where I could enjoy the music to the fullest and shoot some photos of some of the greatest blues acts ever, only to be pushed out by drunken dancers and sometimes having to avoid a fight. I go to the Jacksonville Springin’ The Blues Festival every year and they have a very similar system. It is a small price to pay to see such great entertainment year after year.

    However, one thing scares me – I went to Blues Week last weekend and they would not allow me entrance with my camera. I found that odd as it was on a public street and funded at least partly by tax payer dollars, to which I did contribute. Will I be able to come into the festival with my Nikons as I have each and every year? I promise to share the photos I get with Big Muddy, the artists and Laclede’s Landing. See my website at http://www.triplerphotography.com.

    Thank you,

    Reed Radcliffe
    Sunset Hills, MO

    • Hi Reed-

      Thank you for supporting Big Muddy! We encourage you to bring your camera and we would LOVE for you to share your photos with us. Can’t wait to see your shots after the event!

      Let the good times roll….


  6. This is the place to be this holiday week end. It is always good. See e you there

  7. Here we go again! Thanks for ruining another great event and blaming it on the economy. Its to the point that, to be able to see any BIG event in the great St Lou, you must first give up your checkbook at the gate. Do you work for the Chamber of Commerce? Must be nice to have a job in order to enjoy anything nice in this greedy city. One last question. Whose pockets are being lined with the green stuff?

  8. How Kansas City of you! You see we’re from K.C., and have been driving across the state to see the Big Muddy for a couple of years because it’s free and open. We’ve seen pleny of “festivals” on this side of the state that started out free, then started out charging admission and setting “no coolers” policies. Pretty soon, the price of admission goes up and up until a whole lot of people are priced out or don’t want to bother. See: KC Rhythm & Ribs. Thank God the Gladstone Bluesfest is still free (though for how long is a matter of speculation). As far as the behavior of crowds, it’s been my experience that at free festivals, most people consider themselves guests and act accordingly, with exceptions of course. At pay-for festivals, there seems to be some people who think that paying their way in entitles them to act as stupid as they want. So it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. Good luck to the photog who wants to stand in front of people in the VIP section to get his shots.

  9. As somebody that has formally been involved in music festivals, even raising prices $5/$10 had a big negative impact on our attendence. I hope going from free, to paid does not have the same affect on BMBF. Especially in these tough economic times..

  10. @Kevin – Hope my big butt didn’t get in your way yesterday!

    Today should be a wonderful day for the blues.

    Hope to see you all there!

  11. @Cee Cee – your set was worth the price of admission, everything else was just icing on the cake!

  12. Rob and Dawn Guenther

    Well my husband and I are huge blues music fans and we frequent the local watering holes to get our “blues” fixes. My husband has been every single year since the beginning without fail. This year however, we were angered and disappointed as we arrived from paying $10 to park to the blues fest to find a gate for admission into the blues fest. We expressed a concern to the men working the admission table stating that we have never had to pay to enter the festival in the past to which the men explained that sponsorship was down and they were trying to compensate. My husband expressed his displeasure and we both were a little shocked at the price of admission. The man told us admission was $10 after another man put a blue band on my arm and I proceeded to comment that this is getting expensive, after all we always support the festival by purchasing the overpriced drinks that are avail able at the festival. I passed through the gate my husband following only to have someone say “sir, if you want to go in you need to pay $10 as well.” Ok, why did they let my husband pay my way (thinking it was $5.00 per person) only to have to get his wallet out again and pay another $10 to get in to what we were lead to believe was the enterance to the whole entire festival???? We walked to the end of the street which was blocked off before realizing the other stages were free!!!! We immediately went back to the admission table to express our displeasure and that we did not know this was not for the whole festival but only an area of the festival designed to charge for the big stage. How would we know any different? There was NO SIGN stating such. In our opinion the folks working the admission gate had every option to explain what that area was. Especially since we spent a little time trying to understand why they were charging to get into our beloved blues festival for the first time ever. My husband asked for a refund because I assure you that if we had known in advance that it was only for the particular area including the big stage we would have never paid $10 each to enter that area, we were perfectly happy experiencing the free entertainment purchasing our beverages from the street. When we asked for a refund the large man at the gate seemed annoyed that we would ask such a thing and we explained that we were mislead and that we weren’t even interested in the big stage. He picked up a two way radio, DID NOT explain that we felt mislead and taken advantage of . He simply said “we have a problem, someone wants a refund”. The woman’s voice on the other end said “WE DON’T GIVE REFUNDS.” So we were taken for $20, were livid that we were not treated honestly, and could do nothing about it because if we tried to express our issue we were sure the police would have been called and we would not have gotten the refund and after all we did not attend the blues fest to make a scene. We were there because we genuinely enjoy the blues and we traditionally go every year to indulge in the great talent that St. Louis has to share. Instead, our fun had stopped before we even began because someone became greedy and decided to rob us. Yes, I understand that you need the $20 because sponsorship is down but dishonesty, theft, and just plain disreguard for how you treat loyal festival goers. I know the economy has not been kind to you and that is why you felt you had to charge but that is $20 that we did not intend on spending that night and you are not the only ones the economy has impacted, we would have been much happier keeping our $20 of hard earned money because after what happend, we removed our blue bands and tried to enjoy the free stages with the cloud of the earlier incedent looming over us. Thanks for ruining one of the few things we look forward to every year.

  13. Wow.. Being an artist on the main stage that would have loved to entertain you with a great show, I’m sad that you had such an experience. People in stressful situations sometimes forget how to treat each other compassionately. I hope that this experience will not cause you to come out in future years to enjoy all the hard work we artists put into getting to stages like these to reach you.. your hearts.. your lives.. working to bring you a little joy in your days. I can’t make any apology for the Big Muddy but when it comes to that dirty word ‘money’ and how we all must have it to survive, people can get fearful which leads to people getting edgy, angry, controlling and the loss of a precious commodity ‘being kind to one another’ in situations like these, is lost. Bless you for loving music and being willing to share your thoughts. ‘Communication’ leads to healing.

  14. Cee Cee’s comment not withstanding, I would like to be the first to be compassionate and offer to refund your $20 out of my own unemployed pocket. I suppose the watering holes you frequent never have a cover charge and the drinks are free – I want to know where I can get quality blues music like that!

  15. Good point Reed about the watering holes. Not sure how ‘notwithstanding’ works in this paragraph so I don’t know if you didn’t like my thoughts or ???!!! LOL

    Like they say.. ‘opinions are like _______, everyone has one!’ 🙂 I just felt that maybe things could have been a little kinder and possibly when put on the spot with an unhappy patron, the wrong emotions came up.. when indeed in a different circumstance, the person handing the money end of the ticket sales might have been a bit kinder. BUT then again, on the other hand, there are always 3 stories.. his story, her story and the REAL story!

    So who knows.. I just try to view the bigger picture in all situations and offer thoughts of opening up to communication. And indeed ‘money’ is one of the biggest button pushers in our world.

    I hope there is some resolution to this issue as I’d hate for this wonderful festival and the great patrons that attend to be at odds. In the end we would all loose including us musicians who really want to bring as much good into the world as we can right now.

  16. I’ll agree with Dawn, but ONLY to the point that a change in policy to charge admission can very well be a “jump the shark” moment for what had been a free music festival. However, I cannot sympathize with a “huge blues fan” who didn’t know about this policy well in advance. Wasn’t she and her husband at least curious enough to know what the lineup was? That’s how we found out about the admission charge. Again, we’re from KC, and knowing the lineup is critical to our decision to attend, and especially which day to attend. Also, we’re not in the St. Louis media market, but I have a tough time believing that any media that did any kind of “advance” on the festival (particularly, the Post-Dispatch) would fail to mention the new admission charge to the main stage, or that the side stages were still free.

  17. Now, thoughts on Sunday, the day we decided to attend (sorry, CeeCee). Got there just as the Blues City All Stars took the stage. I thought they were OK for a mid-afternoon act, and Shawn Pittman was a bit better, given that his material was original. But my kid the musician said it was “nothing that we haven’t heard 1,000 times before.” Then Ronnie Baker Brooks tore things up. Bands wanting to take it to the next level need to study these three guys and their combination of musicianship and showmanship. We had seen him before, so that was no surprise. Finally, the guy we really drove 250 miles for — Sonny Landreth. He made sounds come out of those guitars I didn’t think were possible. Great show, but . . . I remember checking my cell phone and seeing that it was 10:07. Great! We got another hour of this to go! Only, next thing I know, Landreth is waving good-bye, then coming back for his one encore. The whole thing is over well before 10:30. On top of that, about two songs into his set, people started packing up their chairs and tents and leaving. By the time he was done, the crowd (not that huge to begin with) was cut at least in half. What’s the matter, St. Louis? Your cars turn into pumpkins if you’re not home in bed by 11?

  18. Rob and Dawn Guenther

    Cee Cee,

    Thanks for your compassion. I really appreciate that. I don’t care what the circumstances were, THERE WAS NO SIGN designating this a VIP area or otherwise. The staff fell short in telling us there were free stages and then refused a refund when it was realized by the patron. Even half a refund might have been better than nothing. Long story short it was not handled correctly, we were the victim and we DID get on more than one website to view the lineup. I would have to go look them up to post them here but yes, we did our research. We attended the week of blues event the weekend before the actual blues fest and was handed an schedule for the blues fest weekend and since it has been free since the beginning of time, honestly it did not even occur to us that there would be a charge, there never has been before!!!!! Please don’t misunderstand, THIS IS THE REAL STORY!!!!! I am an honest person. What do I have to gain from lieing about something that already happened? I just felt I was treated very unfairly and I didn’t appreciate the way my situation was handled. I have been in customer service most of my life and the folks running things could certainly learn a few things about how to treat folks who are spending their hard earned money with you. I also learned in my years of customer service experience that anytime there is one person that complains about something there are 27 other people who did not take the time, but were unsatified about the same exact thing. So give that some thought.

    Yes, we do frequent the waterholes and let me assure you we have NEVER AND I MEAN NEVER paid $10 each for a cover charge on top of a $10 parking fee. If it were that expensive, we simply would not get to enjoy such things. I never implied that drinks and quality entertainment were free at such places either. We’ve seen Kim Massie countless times, David Dee knows my husband by name we’ve seen him so many times, we’ve also seen Eric Guitar Davis, Big George and the House Rockers, and Marquise Knox just to name a few and have never paid $10 a person to see them. I also think that you are missing the point entirely by offering your $20 unemployment money to us. The point is we were not treated with one ounce of understanding in this situation. Thanks anyway.


    I think this could very well be our “jump the shark” moment. My husband who is the die hard that has been every year since the beginning rain or blistering sun has already said that his fun was ruined and he won’t be attending next year. He is pretty bull headed when he wants to be, and I am sorely disappointed with our experience this year. We will definately re-evaluate the decission to attend next year.

  19. This is kind of late to be replying, but Dawn, I cannot symphathize that you didn’t know about the admission fee, OR the separate VIP seating arrangement well in advance. We’re from KC, and we knew. And the VIP seating was clearly marked.

    Also, how did you NOT know that the other stages were free? The admission gate was only at the main stage and there was absolutely nothing blocking your path to the satellite stages.

    While we lament the decision to charge a fee for what had been a free event, and even found the lineup, at least the day we chose to attend, weaker than the two previous (free) years, we’ll be back next year unless they start charging an arm and a leg, and if there is somebody we want to drive 250 miles to see.

  20. As for the $10 parking fee, we avoided that by parking at the Forest Park Metrolink station and riding the rest of the way in and back on two roundtrip tickets for a total of $9. Saved a buck and also avoided a lot of traffic, too.

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