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Fort Harrod Jazz Fest returns this weekend, 18 bands strong

HARRODSBURG — The Fort Harrod Jazz Festival returns today through Sunday with the biggest lineup offered in its five-year history.

“We’ve grown at a very rapid pace,” says Sam Carr, director of the festival. Carr says the festival has grown from three bands its first year, to now 18-bands strong.

The festival’s headliner, Adrian Crutchfield, actually reached out to the festival about playing it, Carr says. “And he’s played with Prince, Lionel Richie, Bette Midler …”

Five years ago, the festival offered about six hours of music and had three sponsors. “Now, we are set with three days and 20 hours of music, with 20+ sponsors and partners helping support the festival,” Carr says.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the festival once again offers the Kentucky Artisans Expo, with what Carr says is some of the region’s finest artists showcasing original, handmade arts and crafts. 

As far as music, the lineup includes bands from central Kentucky, Nashville, Cincinnati, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The festival really is about the music, with some incredible bands and musicians, and any bands that have played the festival always want to come back,” Carr says. He says of course there’s great food and drinks, as well as arts and crafts in a “really cool park setting and venue.”

“We also partner with many of our local colleges and universities with their jazz ensembles playing  — including UK, Morehead, EKU, NKU … The universities love the festival as it exposes their students to a festival environment performing in front of other college bands.”

Carr says planning is already underway for 2019, with the focus being to pay tribute to 50 years of jazz at the University of Kentucky, and likely the addition of a second stage at the festival.”

The festival may have grown, but organizers still offer it at no fee, he says.

The line up is:

• Friday — Blue Groove Jazz, 6-6 p.m.; Paladin, 7:10-8:15 p.m.; Grupo LexiSamba, 8:30-10 p.m.

• Saturday — Walnut Street Ramblers, 11 a.m.-noon; Miss Direction, 12:20-1:20 p.m.;  Campbellsville University Jazz, 1:40-2:40 p.m.; Jazz Collective, 3-4 p.m.; Voyager Jazz Sextet, 4:20-5:20 p.m.; Cosmic Collective, 5:40 to 6:40 p.m.; The Sofia Goodman Group, 7-8 p.m.  – Adrian Crutchfield, 8:30-10 p.m.

• Sunday — University of Kentucky Jazz Ensemble, noon-12:30 p.m.; Asbury University Jazz Band, 12:40-1:10 p.m.; Eastern Kentucky University Jazz, 1:20 to 1:50 p.m.; Northern Kentucky University, 2-2:30 p.m.; Morehead State Jazz 1, 2:40-3:10 p.m.; MetroGnomes, 3:20-4:20 p.m.; Brookes Giles III Combo – 4:35 to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit www.ftharrodjazzfest.com.