When Westbound Situation bassist Jacob Warren got behind a microphone on the main stage of the Black Swamp Arts Festival and asked if anyone knew of Side Cut Park in Maumee, Ginger Barson shot her hand into the air. 

An enthusiastic member of the audience, she nodded her head along to every tune Bowling Green local Grant Flick and his bandmates strummed out on stage. Occasionally, she’d turn to her friend Chris Jackson to comment on cellist Zach Brown’s musical methods before turning her attention back to the stage.

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Westbound Situation bassist Jacob Warren and banjo player Matt Davis smile as they play.

Ginger and the Black Swamp Arts Festival had history.

“It’s Bowling Green at it’s best,” she said as the sounds of violin, cello, bass and banjo filled the air around her. 

Ginger found Bowling Green when she came to college and stayed in town for a decade before moving away for nearly 30 years. After spending time in Hawaii and Cincinnati, it was the Black Swamp Arts Festival that brought her and her husband back. 

Her husband, Bob Manley, is a part of the Joe Baker Band and was invited to play on the main stage in 2010. It was on their way back home from the festival that Ginger wondered if they belonged back in Bowling Green.

“I said, ‘Bob, we really like Bowling Green. Would you consider moving back there?’” she said.

A week later, Ginger and her husband decided to come back home to Bowling Green. The couple and their friends have been participating in the festival nearly every year since.

“If you’re in town, how can you —” Chris said, with Ginger joining in, “How can you not?”

“Whether you’re musicians or not, I mean, everybody comes for different reasons, be it the food or the art of the music or just to meet old friends,” Ginger said.

The hundreds of other Bowling Green residents, BGSU students and visitors from surrounding areas seemed to prove their point as they filled the seats in front of the main, community and family stages and lined up to see art from nearly 150 vendors and buy food from various food trucks.

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