Ten things you need to know about Roots N Blues N BBQ

If you’re a newbie to the festival, here are all the things you’ll need to keep in mind when you go.
Maneater file photo

Try the food

One of the best things about Roots N Blues N BBQ is the BBQ. I mean, it is in the name. At every Roots N Blues, businesses create unique creations like Harold’s Doughnuts BBQ sandwich — BBQ pulled pork on a doughnut bun, plus sides of slaw, beans and cheesy grits.

Roots N Blues has the best venue

Stephens Lake Park is one of the prettiest nature parks in Columbia, so the fact that Roots N Blues is there only adds to how cool the festival is. There are two stages, a variety of lounges and vendors (food, merchandise and crafts) for you to explore.

Go see the gospel celebration

Sunday at the festival features a gospel celebration from Broadway Christian Church, and the music is definitely something you should check out. Big, passionate vocals that you can clap along to represent the roots of the festival.

Don’t bring water (or anything else, really)

You’re not allowed to bring food or beverages into the venue, but don’t fear; there is free water inside the festival. If you’re looking to be environmentally friendly, feel free to bring a refillable water bottle.

Bring cash to buy crafts

There are 17 craft and nonprofit vendors at Roots N Blues this year, and the crafts are so trendy and cool that you won’t be able to resist. BE HIPPY, one of the craft vendors, is a lifestyle brand that sells T-shirts, and Williams HandMade Crafts is a shop that sells artisan crafts.

Next year? Volunteer

If you want to get into Roots N Blues and help run the festival, volunteering is for you. You can volunteer a few hours of your time and get a T-shirt and three-day pass to the festival. Positions range from the Accessibility Assistance Team to the Mercantile Team.

Look for the deals

Roots N Blues brings a lot of thrifty deals to Columbia. Participating retailers include ACME Hot & Fresh T-Shirts, Gidget's Garage, Makes Scents and The Peace Nook. Restaurants offering deals include 9th Street Public House, Hot Box Cookies, Nourish Cafe and Market, Ugly Mugg and Yogoluv. To see the rest of the local deals, head to the Roots N Blues website.

Don’t drive

Parking is going to be a wreck during the festival, but if you park in any of the parking garages downtown, you can take the free festival shuttle. You’ll be driven right to the gates of Roots N Blues, and buses start one hour before the festival begins every day. For other transportation, the city of Columbia will be running CoMo Connect for free the entire weekend. If you’re looking to be extra sustainable this weekend, ride your bike to the fest or walk — it’s only a roughly 15-minute walk from downtown.

Accessibility at Roots N Blues is important

Roots N Blues offers ADA parking as well as a flat route to the festival itself. Inside the festival, a golf-cart shuttle will be running around the grounds for all fans for free. There are marked stops around the festival, or you can call a posted number to get a ride.

Do Roots N Blues the way you want to

Roots N Blues is an event that can be tailored to anybody, so make it your own. You don’t have to stay all day if you don’t want to — just see your favorite artists, or come early and stay late. Roots N Blues is one of Columbia’s biggest festivals, so live it up and soak up the culture.

Edited by Katie Rosso | krosso@themaneater.com

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