A feast for the senses and the soul, especially the ears and the stomach, is in store for day trippers who love music and barbecue.
Throughout the weekend of September 29 through October 1, the air around Stephens Lake Park near downtown Columbia will be filled with the sweet, smokey aroma of slow-cooked barbecue and the sounds of hot amps and great music as one of Columbia's favorite parties, the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, celebrates its 11th year.
This annual event is part music festival, part art festival and part food festival. Roots N Blues combines over 30 live performances from a wide variety of musical genres - blues, soul, rock and roll, country, bluegrass and nearly everything in between - across two main stages over the course of three days and nights. Throughout the nearly 50-acre festival footprint, art installations will adorn every element of the fest. There also will be a fleet of food trucks and vendors lined up to quell attendees' need for mouth-watering barbecue and a variety of other fare. Columbia's local craft breweries will be on hand to quench thirsts as well.
"We're very excited about Roots N Blues N BBQ 2017," says Richard King, one of the fest organizers and president of Thumper Entertainment. It's been a long time building up to the festival for King as he and his crew have spent a year planning and coordinating to bring it all together. "It's been a lot of work, but now that it's nearly here, we can hardly wait for everyone to come and enjoy the great music, food and fun. We have an amazing line-up of artists and it's going to be a phenomenal time."
The 2017 festival features some of the biggest names in roots music. Headliners include Ryan Adams, Leon Bridges, Band of Horses, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Gary Clark, Jr., Booker T's Stax Revue, Pokey LaFarge, Amanda Shires, Margo Price, Nikki Lane, The Mavericks and Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives.
Gates open at 4 p.m. on Friday and music gets underway at 5:00 p.m. with simultaneous performances by Paul Webber and the Scrappers on Missouri Lottery Stage and Big Sandy and His Fly Rite Boys on the Great Southern Bank Stage. From there, the start times are staggered at the two stages as attendees can enjoy the sounds of the Suffers, Lee Fields and the Expressions and the Old '97s before Booker T's Stax Revue and Gary Clark, Jr. close out the night with sets beginning at 8:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., respectively.
On Saturday, gates open at 10:30 a.m. and the entertainment begins at 11:15 a.m. with a performance by the Aina Cook Band (winner of the King of the Roots contest) followed by Kent Burnside and the Flood Brothers. The afternoon unfolds with sets by the Bel Airs, the Hooten Hallers, Nikki Hill, Untamed Youth, Marshall Crenshaw, the Bottle Rockets, Nikki Lane, and the Steeldrivers. The music continues throughout the evening with Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Pokey LaFarge, and the Mavericks as Band of Horses and Leon Bridges bring the evening to its natural crescendo.
The weekend comes to a head on Sunday with the Norm Ruebling Band and the Broadway Blues starting off the day's entertainment with sets beginning at 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
, respectively. Chump Change, the Fairfield Four, Music Maker Blues Revue and Amanda Shires round out the afternoon's performances. Ana Popovic, Emmylou Harris, and Margo Price will then perform before John Prine and Ryan Adams close out the annual festival Sunday night.
New for 2017, vendors at Roots N Blues will no longer be accepting cash, debit or credit cards. The festival organizers have adopted a cash-free set up, which has been well-tested and successful at other festivals. Attendees' festival wristband will now double as their ticket for admission and cash-less digital wallet, making for faster transaction times, shorter lines and less risk of loosing wallets.
With the cash-less system, attendees will need to preload, or "top-up," their cashless accounts, similar to using a preloaded debit card. Once a purchase is made, the funds will automatically be deducted from the account balance, and "Top-Up" stations will be located around the festival grounds should anyone run out of credit and need to reload their account. Any remaining credit will be refunded after the close of the weekend. More details on the new cashless system, including how it works and how to "top-up" your account, can be found on the festival's website at www.rootsnbluesnbbq.com/cashless-payments/.
In addition to the music and festivities, Roots N Blues hosts the Betsy Farris Memorial Half-Marathon and 10k fun run. The run, honoring one of the festival's founders and greatest proponents of getting fit and staying healthy, will take place on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 30. The races begin at 7 a.m. and wind through Columbia's urban trails, its historic downtown, the beautiful University of Missouri campus and concludes at Stephens Lake Park. All racers will enjoy live music along the route and will receive a commemorative medal, a collector's t-shirt, free barbecue and beer and a discount voucher to use when purchasing festival tickets. For more details about the race, or to sign up, visit the "Race" page on the festival's website.
Throughout the weekend, several transportation options will be available. The festival provides free shuttle service to and from downtown parking lots and garages to the festival entrance for all attendees. GoCOMO (Columbia's city buses) also runs for free all over Columbia during the festival weekend. All GoCOMO buses are ADA accessible. There will be free bicycle parking and ADA accessible parking at the entrance as well.
To check out the full line up of performers, the stage schedule and to order passes for the 2017 festival, please visit www.RootsNBluesNBBQ.com. Daily tickets and weekend passes also are available. Additional information about the fest's new cashless payment system also is available on the Roots N Blues website as well.
Visitors interested in attending the festival can find information on lodging, award-winning dining options, additional events, attractions and things to do around Columbia by heading to the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) website at www.VisitColumbiaMO.com. Or, they can call the CVB at 1-800-652-0987.