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      Boaters lining up at Inner Harbor for Blues Festival

      Dana Fuchs performs at the Blues Fest, on one of the two stages at the event, which runs through Sunday.

      Preparations are underway at the Inner Harbor in Syracuse for this weekend's New York State Blues Festival. In fact, boaters are already lining up to get the best spot in the harbor ahead of this weekend's fun and festivities.

      The 2011 Blues Fest will be held Friday through Sunday. In its 20th year, the festival is moving from Clinton Square to Syracuse's Inner Harbor.

      W hen Jerry Graham heard about the Blues Fest at the Inner Harbor he docked his boat, Hunky Dory, for the weekend. He and his wife are in from Pennsylvania, passing through on a 6-thousand mile trek along waterways throughout the U.S., called the Great Loop.

      "W e said we're not leaving, if we can find a place to tie up , we are here for the weekend," said Graham. "So far its great. Good music, we can sit on the bridge, see the bands and both stages, we have ideal seating."

      The event will feature free live blues entertainment on two stages from more than 100 artists. There will be a variety of ethnic and American food including the Dinosaur BBQ along with soda, beer and wine. New this year, the event will have carnival rides, games and all sorts of fun for kids and families.

      The New York State Blues Festival is one of the largest free blues festivals in the country. Headline performers have included Buddy Guy, Little Feat, Dickie Betts, Bo Diddley and many others. The festival has become a local favorite winning numerous best festival awards while also garnering national attention in 2003 receiving a national award from the Blues Foundation based in Memphis: 'Keeping the Blues Alive' Best Festival/Promoter.

      "There's just a whole different vibe when you're outside, especially in the summertime. We're enjoying some food we don't normally eat." said Regina Middleton.

      "This exciting Blues Festival partnership will combine blues and family fun activities like no other event in Central New York," said Chris Geiger. "Our TV stations and website will be able to promote this festival to over 1,500,000 people in 15 Central New York counties and highlight Syracuse's Inner Harbor, one of our area's great venues."

      "I am thrilled to have CNY Central taking a leading role in supporting our festival. In these difficult times for other charitable and cultural organizations, it's been my privilege to see community support like this coming to help us celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the area's favorite festivals," said Todd Fitzsimmons, President of the New York State Blues Festival Board of Directors.

      The Blues Festival will be held on Friday July 8 from 4:30-11 p.m., Saturday July 9 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday July 10 from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.

      Click here for more information and the full schedule of acts.