Talent was at an all-time high for this past weekend's River City Ohio Blues Competition, event organizers said.
A total of 18 bands battled over the weekend in front of an estimated 1,000 fans.
Steve Wells, vice president of the local Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society, which put on the weekend event, now in its 19th year, said a Columbus-based band won this year's competition.
JOLENE CRAIG Special to The Times
Members of The Code Blue Band from Columbus perform Saturday evening in the ballroom of the Lafayette Hotel in downtown Marietta as part of the River Cities Blues Competition.
"The talent was never better," Wells said. "Only a few points separated first- and second-place. We've had nothing but compliments on how well everyone enjoyed the weekend."
In addition to a $1,200 cash prize, the winning band, Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers, will represent the local area next year at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
Noah Wotherspoon Band, of Cincinnati came in second and the Elm Street Blues Band of Cleveland placed third. Local favorite Vinnie and the Lubricators failed to make the finals.
River City Ohio Blues contest winners:
First place: Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers, of Columbus; $1,200 in cash and an invitation to the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
Second: Noah Wotherspoon Band, of Cincinnati; $600.
Elm Street Blues Band, of Cleveland; $300.
Source: Steve Wells, vice president of the local Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society, which puts on the event.
River City Blues Festival:
When: March 18-19.
Where: Lafayette Hotel.
"This event continues to grow and it has really put Marietta on the map as far as music goes," Wells said. "This is the biggest weekend of music in this area and we've got a reputation of putting on a first-class event."
Money raised at this year's competition will go to help put on additional blues festivals, with the next scheduled for March 18-19 at the Lafayette, which also hosted this past weekend's event.
Wells said about 300 people attended Friday's show and about 400 bought tickets to the Saturday afternoon sale.
"The evening show was jammed packed," Wells said. "I'd estimate there were 450 people in the ballroom. It was hard to navigate, but it was a lot of fun."