Organizers Say 2011 Roots N' Blues is Best Yet
COLUMBIA - The 2011 Boone County National Bank Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival had an estimated 52,000 attendees from 31 states, including Alaska. The audience included fans for both ticketed and non-ticketed areas, volunteers, vendors, sponsors, and BBQ competitors. The crowd enjoyed dozens of bands, which performed on three stages in the heart of Downtown Columbia.
The Roots N Blues N BBQ Community Stage set at Flat Branch Park, was a gift from Thumper to the City of Columbia and the community. The stage was free for all to enjoy and showcased local musicians, as well as a performance by the students participating in the Blues in the Schools program. In addition to the community stage, 300 weekend tickets were given to the City of Columbia and distributed through the Voluntary Action Center. In addition, fans could receive a free ticket by volunteering for the festival and giving back to the community.
Blues in the Schools, a music education program, has been expanded to 10 elementary schools in Columbia. Through Roots N Blues N BBQ's partnership with Gibson, 20 Epiphone guitars were donated to the Columbia Public School system. The 20 guitars will travel to various schools as a music lab, offering hands-on experience and education for students. "The power of Blues in the Schools is indisputable. It's not only essential in creating young Blues enthusiasts, but in building character, pride in heritage, compassion, empathy, communication skills, conflict resolution and the importance of channeling ones inner Blues in a positive, creative outlet that makes one stronger from life's challenges." TJ Wheeler, blues musician, historian and educator.
The King of the Roots is a state-wide talent competition designed to shine a spotlight on local and regional musicians. The competition takes place in Columbia, St. Louis, Springfield and Kansas City. This year's winner, Jason Vivone and the Billy Bats earned the opportunity to perform at the main stage during the festival. The band took first prize at the MO Lottery King of the Roots final showdown this summer. Supporting and exposing local music is something of great importance to festival organizers. Speaking on behalf of the band, Vivone declares, "The Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival is the best music festival in the Midwest."
The half marathon and 10K race attracted 1,398 runners from 10 states. This is the largest turnout in the race's three-year history. Runners ran through scenic Downtown Columbia, and the Katy Trail before concluding in Flat Branch Park where family and friends cheered. Four bands played along the courses and all participants received guitar pick shaped medals and BBQ at the finish line. There was a $5,000 prize purse for the 10K race.