Roots N Blues N Parking

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COLUMBIA - The 8th annual Roots N Blues N BBQ festival will take place this Friday through Sunday. This is the second year the festival will be held at Stephens Lake Park.

The festival moved from downtown Columbia, where it was held in previous years, to accommodate for the growing number of attendees and acts.

Last year, Roots N Blues N BBQ hosted more than 25,000 people from 36 states and 7 different countries. This year, even more are expected to attend.

The headlining acts for Friday night included southern rocker Jason Isbell and Grammy award-winning rock band Los Lobos.

Transportation to this year's event will be free through Columbia's new CoMo Connect bus service. The service will have extended hours on both Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. and provide service on Sunday until 9 p.m. This will be a trial for the bus service's proposed Sunday hours.

Free shuttles will be running directly to the ticket gate from all downtown parking garages.

There will be no parking at Stephens Lake Park during the festival, so event staff recommend utilizing the free shuttles.

Festival goers who took the shuttle said this year's program has been more successful due to the increased number of pick up and drop off locations.

"It's just easier to take the shuttle, and it was so much smoother than we thought," said attendee Jessica Cooper. "And I talked to some friends, last year they said they went ahead and just parked somewhere and the walk was just awful so this year they did the shuttle too."

People who drove to the festival and tried to find parking said spots on side streets were far from the event and hard to find due to numerous roads being closed off.

"I mean the hassle of parking and getting some place, you're probably going to spend as much time parking as you would waiting for the shuttle and being driven here," said Bob Phillips who came to the festival from New Mexico. "So it took us about 5 minutes once the shuttle arrived and people stood around and had a good time waiting for the shuttle."

For those attending the festival this weekend, event staff say do not try to drive to Stephens Lake Park and expect to find a parking spot. Instead, park for free in any downtown garage and take the free shuttle straight to the ticket gate.

The festival continues Saturday and Sunday afternoon.