Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ Festival returns for fifth year

Festival director promises a phenomenal lineup this year.

The fifth annual Roots ’N Blues ’N BBQ Festival will attract an expected 65,000 music lovers and foodies from across the nation to downtown Columbia on Friday and Saturday. Combining the best of two worlds, soul crooners and every kind of barbeque imaginable, it’s sure to offer a little something for everybody.

“It’s really a community event,” Festival Director Jessica Brown says. “It’s a really cool thing to have in Columbia. Not a lot of cities get to have cool stuff like that.”

Here are some highlights:


“We have a phenomenal lineup this year,” Brown says.

According to the event’s Facebook page, there will be “a variety of eclectic, roots, country, bluegrass, gospel, folk and soul music” featured. More than 30 performances will take place during the course of the weekend.

The festival will open at 5 p.m. Friday with a “welcome and introduction” followed by nine concerts (three on each stage), wrapping up at 11 p.m. On Saturday, the events will commence at 11 a.m. and continue throughout the day until 11 p.m.

Musicians appearing this year include Fitz and the Tantrums, Mavis Staples and Taj Mahal. The latter is returning to Columbia for the festival’s fifth anniversary after being the first artist to perform at the event in 2006.

Taj says the festival is among the best in the country.

Also returning is Ana Popovic, a “saucy little lady from Serbia,” Brown says.


This year, 60 teams have registered to compete in the barbecue competition. There are five categories: chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and dessert.

Although festival attendees cannot sample the contestants’ dishes, there will be several vendors selling barbecue all weekend.

“There will be 70 judges that are certified from KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society)," Barbecue Contest Coordinator Millie Rambis says. "Each dish will be judged on presentation, tenderness and taste.”

Barbecue amateurs and connoisseurs alike will be competing this weekend.

“Some are individuals, some are businesses,” Rambis says. “But no restaurants have entered.”

The grand champion will win $2,500 and a trophy, and the “reserve grand champion” will win $1,500 and a trophy. There will also be first place awards given in each food category.

The judging will take place 3 p.m. Saturday at Flat Branch Park.


Although the concept of good music and good food has remained the same, there have been tweaks to the festival since its start.

Starting two years ago, the festival charged an entrance fee for two of the three stages holding the event. The KOPN Community Stage at Flat Branch Park, as well as the Family Zone and barbeque competition area remains open to the public.

Entry to the MO Lottery stage at Peace Park and the Mpix stage at Seventh and Locust Streets require paid admission. This year there are a variety of ticket options for festivalgoers ranging from a basic one-day ticket ($35) to a “Whole Hog VIP Pass” ($195).


This year, the festival has teamed up with businesses in The District to offer festival ticketholders discounts all over downtown!

Businesses like Yogoluv and Tiger Spirit are showing support by decorating their windows for the occasion and holding specials all weekend. Most participating retailers and restaurants offer anyone with a ticket stub 10 percent off his or her purchase.

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