COLUMBIA — Preparation for the Roots ’N’ Blues ’N’ BBQ Festival began early this morning as vendors lined the streets of The District before the first concert.
Three vendors along Eighth Street particularly grabbed the attention of passers-by because of their juxtaposed products and services:
The AARP offered free health screenings in the same space as the Walgreens, which sells candy and snacks, while the Grizzly Snuff tent and Camel bus sold their products close by.
Volunteers and workers of both tobacco companies declined speaking to the press, but a few bystanders took notice of the location.
“I thought it was funny they were selling candy right by AARP,” MU senior David Williams said.
Next to the table, AARP workers gave free health care screenings from inside a bus. Ally Darga, a member of the AARP tour, encourages Columbia residents to take advantage of the free screenings, which include cholesterol, blood glucose and bone density tests.
She also noted the booth's location next to Grizzly Snuff and wondered how the tobacco business ended up next to the AARP bus.
Guitars, drums and blues songs resounded through the crowd as the smell of barbecue filled the air. The streets were filled with a diverse mix of college students, middle-aged couples and families, observing the sights and sampling free food.
Missouri 2012 gubernatorial candidate Leonard Steinman was in the crowd as well— wearing a pink shirt, green whistles and a felt chicken hat with the legs hanging over his ears. Steinman chatted with festival-goers while handing out business cards.
“This is how I get people to pay attention,” he said. “If I get someone’s attention for five minutes, they’ll understand who I am.”
Festival-goers Jamie Dack and Tamara Campbell said they have been attending Roots ’N’ Blues every year since 2005.
“I always see people that I’ve never seen and other bands that I never get a chance to see very often,” Dack said.
While some guests looked forward to the band line-up, others enjoyed the food.
Mugan Peiser ate ribs and chips as her friend Peter Menacell said he was looking forward to seeing Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
Vox Magazine will be providing coverage all weekend with show reviews and live tweeting.