SARASOTA, Fla. -- A day-long blues festival that has raised more than $1 million for the All Faiths Food Bank is ending. Giving Hunger the Blues organizers say that this week they have cancelled the annual event after nearly two decades.
“That is why we did this for 19 years, to help our community, to help our children,” said George Generoso. He started the event in the back of his bar, the Five O'Clock Club. “We just got a bunch of bands together and tried to raise a little money.”
Over the years the event grew into a family friendly block party that helped raise more than a million dollars for All Faiths Food Bank.
“It is kind of a sad thing that it is coming to an end but we have done a lot of good and helped a lot of people,” said Generoso. After much thought, he has decided to cancel the long running charity fundraiser.
“Just a bunch of different circumstances happened more than anything else and I got a little tired.”
“It has been a labor of love and it has been an awful lot of hard work, an awful lot of hours,” explained event co-chair Caroline Sansone. She said the decision to end the annual block party for charity was not easy. "You have to run your lives simultaneously and it does involve hundreds of hours of work and I think we just needed to take a step back and review.”
But what neither of them expected was the reaction from the community as news of the canceled event made its way around town.
“It has been overwhelming,” said Generoso. He says he has been inundated with phone calls and responses on social media. “I needed a reboot and this might be a reboot, the way people have been reacting,” he said.
Alan Tannenbaum has enjoyed attending Giving Hunger the Blues for years. “Everybody has a great time. It is an opportunity for the average Joe to participate in a fund-raising event while having a great time.”
Tannenbaum believes if Generoso doesn’t change his mind someone will step forward and continue Generoso's work. “I think that this was kind of a message to everybody out there who has an interest in this, let's find another sponsor, let's make it happen. I don't think it is going to go away,” said Tannenbaum.