Music festivals take place all over the world each year. Many of them focus on a particular genre of music, or artists from a specific region. The Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, celebrating their 10th anniversary this year in Columbia, Missouri, throws that notion out the proverbial window. The festival takes place Sep 30th – Oct 2nd, 2016 and their philosophy is to have something, quite literally, for everyone.
Founders, Richard King and company from Thumper Entertainment, believe that the shared experience of live music promotes harmony among people from all walks of life. That has been their mission since the beginning, and they’ve built on that philosophy to add more to the festival each year.
First and foremost is the music. This year, two stages, located at Stephens Lake Park, will showcase 31 bands and performers over the 3 days of the festival. These acts represent the genres of roots, blues, gospel, country, folk, bluegrass, rock, and soul. The line up includes international, national, regional, and local artists. When we called it “one of the most prominent festivals in the country,” we weren’t joking. However, there is much more than the booked musical acts to entertain the masses.
Festival proceeds go to the Blues in the Schools program. Students have the opportunity to write and perform with award-winning guest musicians and internationally recognized music educators in their classrooms. Programs range from assembly only to a week-long residence. They also learn about the blues and American blues history, traditions, diversity, culture, and influential blues legends through hands on experience. The Blues in the Schools performance will be free to the public on Saturday, October 1st, beginning at noon at the Stephens Lake Park Amphitheater.
To that end, events take place all year that help promote and fund the program. “Name That Tune” contests, art shows, poster contests, battle of bands events, and more are held throughout the area. The John Lennon Songwriting Contest gives anyone, students included, an opportunity to submit original songs, of any genre, for a chance to win prizes, cash, instruments, electronics, and a performance slot at the festival, with lodging included.
Food, craft and merchandise vendors abound on the grounds, with some of the most sumptuous delights available anywhere. There are VIP areas, beer gardens, a sober party tent, cell phone charging stations, shuttles, and more. The park, itself, boasts beautiful landscaping, fountains, aquatics, rides, and the lake.
The festival includes a kick-off event Thursday night, Half Marathon and 10K runs on Saturday morning, and a Gospel Celebration on Sunday. The city of Columbia has first rate lodging, and over 200 restaurants, several of which, in The District, will be having specials on festival weekend.
While there is no vehicle parking at the event, free shuttles run to parking garages downtown. Speaking of downtown, its only a mile from the festival, so folks can bike, with free secure bike parking at the entrance. The City of Columbia will be running COMO Connect for free all festival weekend, as well. With stops all over the city, festival goers can ride from their house, hotel, or another location.
For more information on Blues N Roots N BBQ, this year’s artist lineup, and to purchase advance tickets, click the link below. See you in Columbia!