How to Roots N Blues

An experienced attendee shares her tips on having a successful festival weekend.

Never been to the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival? You’re in for a treat. This will be the sixth year for the growing festival and its first year at its new venue, Stephens Lake Park. If you ask me, this is a beautiful and peaceful place for the festival and still close to downtown for students and out-of-town guests.

I attended the event for the first time in 2011, so if you’re new to the blues festival, or music festivals in general, let me give you a couple hints:

1. Grab a buddy
Going alone is not as scary as you’d think. You can create lasting memories with complete strangers and still have a great time. But, if this is not your style, convince a friend to go. It’s a great deal, with tickets going for $75 for the weekend. (I can guarantee that if you saw some of these bands alone, they would be more expensive.) Everything is more fun with your best friend, right?

2. Plan ahead
If you have certain acts that are absolute must-see shows, don’t be afraid to schedule your weekend around them. I strongly encourage you to see artists you’ve never heard of, but hey, don’t miss your favorites.

It’s someone’s job to find all the best vendors around and bring them to the festival, so why not take advantage of this? “BBQ” is in the name of the festival. Try some. The people making the barbecue come from far and wide to compete in this festival, and it helps them out to sell a little extra food. If you wouldn’t normally be a barbecue person, don’t worry. There are tons of other great foods. Even if it’s not in your price range, spend maybe one lunch or evening meal at the festival and splurge. It’ll be worth it.

4. Be friendly, just not too friendly
I’m a super shy person. But I’m a different person at festivals, especially if I’m alone. Make new friends. You’re all there for one common reason: to peacefully enjoy a weekend full of good music and food. Don’t be afraid to ask people where they’re from and start a conversation. You never know.

5. Stay the whole day
Whether you paid for your own ticket or not, don’t waste it. Stay the whole day (or at least as much of it as you can). All musical artists have to start somewhere, so give them a chance. Whether you’ve heard of an act or not, check them out. You don’t want to miss something good.

6. Volunteer in the future
Roots N Blues has more than 100 volunteers every year. Take advantage of this. If you volunteer, you get free tickets to the festival, which means free concerts. This is a great deal, especially if you have nothing better to do on a non-game day weekend. I know everyone has a Netflix queue to keep up with, but make some time for some real-life events.

7. Get as close as you can
The closer you sit/stand to the stage, the better the experience. Fact. Don’t be afraid to get there early or try to squirm your way to the front of the audience; just be polite about it. When you can see the emotion in a singer’s eyes and the sweat dripping off the guitarists’ face, that’s when you get the true experience and see the show as it was meant to be seen.

8. Health first, y’all
The first day of autumn will be the last day of the festival, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be hot. Bring your water bottle, even if it’s not too bad out, because you’ll want those hydration breaks. This is the motherly side of me coming out, but make sure you lather up that sunscreen if you’re outside all day. It is a park after all.

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