Zoofest and 44 years of the Zoo Bar - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Zoofest and 44 years of the Zoo Bar

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The Zoo Bar has a lot of history. Many blues legends have passed through their doors. This year they're celebrating 44 years.

44 years bring with it a lot of history and stories. The Zoo Bar has both. Saturday, they held their annual Zoofest, which started in 1998.

They say it's the longest consecutively running musical festival in the country.

"It's rare that a place like this can as long as it has, and that's all because of the support of the community. Lincoln's been awfully, awfully great to us," says Peter Watters, the owner of the Zoo Bar.

The bar's history goes way back. It's first owner Larry Boehmer was a musician and UNL alum. One night after hearing blues legend, Luther Allison play at UNL's Student Union. He convinced the music great to play at his bar.

"The last time he was ever filmed was at the Zoo Bar and if you look at the banners we have up here, he's one of them. He's one of the legends that we're trying to honor here today," said Watters.

Allison was the first acto to play at the Zoo Bar, but not the last. Many famous acts would follow. The music is etched in the walls and an otherwise unassuming bar now draws bands from across the nation. Today, Peter Watters, who started off as a bartender, nearly 30 years ago owns the business.

Watters said, "I'm such a music lover, that I kind of fell into this. I didn't think this is what I was going to do. I loved hanging around here, when I turned of age."

Zoofest is a celebration of the bar's history and they're expecting more than 15,000 people this year.

Gerardo Meza of the Mezcal Brothers says, "So, we got our start here and Larry Boehmer kind of pushed us a little bit, believed in us, and we go to do a few show in the beginning and early days. And we ended up going on the road after that."

"You know, the venue, a comfortable, a welcoming audience and great staff. It's always a really good, big part of my life," added Meza.

Saturday's headliner was Charlie Musselwhite, his show starts at 10.

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