‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice lattes, spooky, scary skeletons and dwindling daylight hours. With the changing colors of the leaves and the increased prevalence of Halloween decorations at convenience stores, the dog days of summer seem to be coming to an end.
And while outdoor grilling and live music are more commonly considered a staple of those better days, the Roots N Blues N BBQ festival is here to keep that feel-good summer vibe around for one last weekend.
Taking place in Stephens Lake Park and spanning from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, the Roots N Blues N BBQ festival will feature over 30 local, regional, national and international artists, showcasing genres that range from country and bluegrass to gospel and soul. Headline artists include Ryan Adams, Leon Bridges and Emmylou Harris.
But the musical acts won’t be the only attractions that’ll draw people into Columbia. As one can probably infer from the title of the event, festivalgoers can also enjoy an array of culinary options from local food vendors.
Although the festival menu understandably places greater emphasis on BBQ options, the vendors specializing in snacks, drinks and desserts are there to make headlines as well. While it is only their first year at the festival, Smoothie King plans to bring something fresh to the festival experience that doesn’t necessarily fit the conventions of festival food.
Aside from selling various smoothies, Smoothie King will offer a healthy brand of cookies, avocado oil potato chips, fruit and pretzels. Store Manager Lee Brown believes it’s important to offer healthy alternatives, especially at a place where people may have a harder time finding them.
“We want to promote living a healthy and active lifestyle; that’s our mission statement,” Lee said. “Instead of eating unhealthy food, people can have our smoothies as an option.”
In addition to advocating healthier living, Smoothie King plans on fostering eco-friendly practices. Because the festival doesn’t allow anyone to carry plastic water bottles, Smoothie King has taken upon itself to make reusable Smoothie King plastic water bottles.
“My favorite part is not worrying about putting more plastic out there and reducing our carbon footprint,” Lee said. “It’s also something the customers can take home that has our logo on it.”
Because the festival has grown considerably over the years, Roots N’ Blues N’ BBQ has inadvertently become an ideal location for vendors to engage in some shameless (yet harmless) self-promotion. After four years of selling drinks at the festival, Lakota Coffee Company General Manager Andrew DuCharme has seen the increase in festivalgoers as a vital part in their marketing strategy.
“Normally we’re in a coffee shop, but here you go outside and see new people,” Ducharme said. “It’s great for advertising, especially when you have people from Kansas City and St. Louis come try us.”
Lakota Coffee will offer lemonade, iced coffee, tea and chai and bottled drinks for the hot and stickier part of the day, as well as hot coffee, cocoa and apple cider once night falls. Snacks such as cookies and chips will also be provided.
But at what point do snacks like avocado chips and cookies fail to suffice? Sure, they do the job at keeping you satiated between a couple of sets, but what about dinner?
While Harold’s Doughnuts is technically filed under the “Snacks, Drinks & Desserts” category on the vendor menu, it does have one item that could potentially answer those questions.
BBQ pulled pork and chicken doughnut sandwiches.There’s a first for everything, right?
Founder and owner of Harold’s Doughnuts Michael Urban certainly believes so. Urban’s goal was to try something unique, especially for this particular event.
“We’ve got the culinary chops to be able to do new things,” Urban said. “Certainly people don’t just eat doughnuts for dinner, so this is a great opportunity for us to be creative.”
With Harold’s Doughnuts’ doughnut sandwiches, Smoothie King’s reusable water bottles and Lakota Coffee’s hot and cold beverages, BBQ vendors need to step up their game or they may run the risk of getting burned.
Edited by Claire Colby | email@example.com