QUINCY -- The wait was finally over for Linda Willing.
The Quincy woman counts down the days each winter until the return of Blues in the District, and she was in her usual spot Friday night in Washington Park.
"We like the music, the people," Willing said.
The 22nd year of Blues in the District kicked with a performance by Harper and Midwest Kind, and a few raindrops early on didn't stop a large crowd from gathering.
Five-year-old Elinor Aubuchon just wanted to dance to the music – one of the traditions of coming to the concerts along with getting popcorn and TCBY.
"She's old enough now to have traditions," Elinor's mom Megan Duesterhaus-Aubuchon said.
Coming to Blues in the District was one of the first "child-friendly" events for Elinor where she could spend time with other kids, listen to music and have fun with her grandparents Steve and Glori Duesterhaus, who have been enjoying the concerts for years.
"What's great about it is it's free," said Bruce Guthrie, executive director of the District which sponsors the concerts. "It's a great way for people to get together on a beautiful night in a historic, beautiful park in the downtown of Quincy, the heart of Quincy."
Blues in the District happens because of what Guthrie said is "great" support from sponsors, including Blessing Health System, this year's presenting sponsor.
"We have over 80 sponsors and other people who donate dollars to make this free. To put this on takes a lot of volunteers, a lot of sponsors," Guthrie said. "We think it's very important for the community, something everybody looks forward to."
Five more Friday night concerts are planned this summer on June 28, July 12 and 26 and Aug. 9 and 23.
Guthrie said new events are planned in connection with two of the concerts.
July 26 will offer a farmers market "to bring the market to the crowd," Guthrie said. "On Aug. 9, we will bring what we're calling our Heart of Quincy Vendor Night, with different vendors in the districts, members of ours, able to set up spots to sell or show off what they do."
Children's activities, provided by Blessing Health System, are available each night along with food for sale from the Butcher Block, TCBY and Gengenbacher's Shaved Ice and free popcorn provided by Ludwig Auto Body.
Quincyan John Mast helps plan the concert series and brings out his family to enjoy the nights.
"It's a fantastic, free, family-friendly event, and there's live music," Mast said. "A lot of times you can go to hear live music at a bar, but you can't take your kids and they charge you."
Instead, three generations of the family enjoyed the park, the music and watching Mast's 5-year-old son Leo play catch.
And Guthrie said there's one more way to take in some blues.
"We do the noon blues," he said.
Each Friday with a Blues in the District concert, "as we're setting up down here, we invite anybody to come down from noon to 1. The Butcher Block is set up, so you can get lunch and listen to some music. We always have someone playing."