Today's Question: Charging for admission at Roots 'N' Blues

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | 12:28 p.m. CDT; updated 12:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 4, 2009

For the first time, one of Columbia's most popular community events, the Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ festival, will be charging an admission fee. If ticket-buyers act in advance, the price will be $10 for a day pass and $15 for a weekend pass. If purchased on the day of, the price will go up to $15 for day passes and $25 for weekend passes.

The city will receive a cut, too. Columbia gets $1 for every ticket sold, regardless of whether it's a weekday pass or a weekend pass. According to Richard King, one of the representatives from the festival's sponsor, Thumper Entertainment, this year's acts are supposed to be higher-caliber than the past two years'.

This past year's festival attracted more than 100,000 people, up from about 65,000 who attended the first year. The state of both local and national economies, however, could have an effect on those numbers, and a $10 to $25 fee per person might be enough to keep some families away this year. 

Will charging for Roots 'N' Blues tickets this year produce a lower attendance festival?

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Mary Hussmann August 5, 2009 | 11:08 a.m.

Yes, the event has now become for-profit for Thumper and this ruins the previously free event in that the key to the Festival's success was that everyone could enjoy the Blues music. It was a friendly and diverse crowd and more enjoyable because of this inclusiveness. I and my friends will not be attending.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 5, 2009 | 12:00 p.m.

Depends on the playlist. Who's the draw? How good is the promotion?
My guess is lower attendance because:
1. We're not St. Louis
2. Richard King and Company would need to do a lot of pre-sales.
3. Columbia residents were spoiled by the banks initial sponsorship and last year's free Buddy Guy concert. First year's Taj Mahal was awesome.
4. Some people will not visit this town with all the negative publicity we've been having with alcohol crack downs downtown.
5. "Free" admission brings crowds and THEN people spend money on other stuff.
6. People will remember problems with those fake money coupons they had to buy for food and drink and then had problems with counterfits, change and redeeming unused coupons for cash refunds.
7. The festival is not kid/family-friendly.
8. Too much competition with other festivals.
9. The Farmers Almanac predicts heavy rains on that weekend. (Although I'm not quite certain which year's almanac I'm looking at.)
10. I'll think of something else later and decide if it's worth posting.
(How about we're no Kansas City?)

(Report Comment)
Sara Connor September 23, 2009 | 9:26 a.m.

I think it most definitely will. I think many people will not come out of principle, it was free & now you are going to charge? & for what? The music line up is sadly lacking. No one I would pay to see, let alone weather the crowds, drunk college students & grown ups, poor food choices & 50 mile hikes between venues for. If you are going to charge, you have to have something to charge for. But, we'll see. Mid Missourians might be desperate enough for an event to go to that they might!

(Report Comment)
Marilyn McCreary September 27, 2009 | 11:01 p.m.

I thought that this festival was the best of the 3. The cost of $10 for 12 hours of entertainment was so inexpensive compared to any other concert in town. My ticket was actually free since I had volunteered and that was fun too. The Grant School children with their Blues in the Schools program did a great job. My friend and I really enjoyed the Saturday show in Peace Park and at 7th street. The skies were clear, the crowd was family friendly and the music was wonderful. Each group was so good that I couldn't decide which was the best. There was even some of my favorite local groups like John White(the great fiddler)and friends outside the pay area. When the Blind Boys of Alabama were playing and we greeted friends that we hadn't seen in a while, it was just like a camp meeting. I can't wait until next year! Maybe I will even do the half marathon! If you weren't able to go, I hope that you have the chance next year. Did I mention that the BBQ was great too!

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