COLUMBIA — This year's Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival’s star power attracted crowds from more than just Missouri.
Jade Ingraham was part of a group of 10 women who traveled from Burlington, Iowa, to see Susan Tedeschi play. Jade Ingraham’s mother, Martha Ingraham, celebrated her birthday at the festival. They were so moved by Columbia’s hospitality, the festival and the food that they plan to attend next year as well, Jade Ingraham said.
Jade Ingraham’s cousin Stacia Matten was pleasantly surprised by the size of the festival.
“The festival’s much bigger than we thought,” Matten said.
The festival also acted as a meeting place for college buddies Bob Cole, Steve McDannold and two other alumni of Truman State University, who held their annual reunion during this year's festival.
McDannold said he appreciated the mix of musical acts.
“I wanted to see the unknowns because you always find something new with that,” he said.
The men crowded in front of the MPIX Stage because it hosted Anders Osborne, their favorite act.
“This is the prime stage,” Cole said. “We come here to listen to some great tunes.”
Solo artist Tab Benoit was a major attraction as well. Travis Rice and Lisa Elkin of Columbia came specifically to see him perform.
“I dig the blues, and he’s awesome,” Rice said. “He’s up there with the best!”
Blues singer Shemekia Copeland’s voice was audible for blocks. Her sense of humor was also apparent.
“Fellas, you don’t want to date me because you’ll be in a song,” she said to introduce one tune.
Jimmy Wayne constantly called to the crowd and encouraged them to be part of the show. Del McCoury got people on their feet with his bluegrass country, and Brazilian band Garotas Suecas brought their garage rock to the festival.
The food was also a big draw for many. Doug Morris, of Moberly, ate at Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ and said it was "awesome."
Michelle Smith, a Smokin’ Chick’s employee, was pleased with the audience's response.
“It’s a good idea for small businesses to make money and promote their products,” she said.
Jeni Williams of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken thought the festival showcased a variety of processes for cooking the same dishes. For example, pulled pork sandwiches were offered by many vendors.
The Columbia Police Department had 40 officers covering the festival Friday night. Sgt. Lloyd Simons said he was satisfied with how the first day turned out.
“It has remained calm with no major police issues for the most part,” Simons said.
Elise Baron, who was cheering for Noah Earle’s brand of homegrown soul, said she loved the way the festival was gaining public appreciation.
“Roots and blues has its origins in Africa, but over the years it has synthesized itself with different music forms,” she said. “The fact that Columbia has it here is unifying.”