No attendance numbers available for Roots 'N' Blues

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | 1:11 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Rain or shine, the show went on, though it’s not yet clear how the weather and better-known artists affected the 2011 Roots 'N’ Blues 'N’ BBQ festival.

More than a week and half after the event, officials have not released the attendance and profit numbers.

Barbecue winners

Fifty-six teams competed in the Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival. They competed for $15,000 in cash prizes as well as painted guitar trophies. Here are the winners:

Grand champion: Political Pork

Reserve grand champion: Blazin’ Blues

First place, dessert: Up In Smoke

First place, chicken: Spicewine Ironworks

First place, pork ribs: D2 BBQ

First place, pork: Muddy BBQ

First place, brisket: TrueQue

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"We're just moving really slow right now," Jessica Brown, festival director for Thumper Entertainment, which organized the event, said Wednesday.

Brown noted that the festival “felt really good” in terms of attendance but had no specifics.

She said that 65,000 people attended the festival last year.

The on-again, off-again rain over Sept. 9-10 might have caused lower attendance than previous years, but Brown said those who really wanted to see the music showed up anyway.

“Because it’s an outside show, you just bear through it,” Brown said. “You’re there for the music, and you’re there to see who you want to see.”

Ticket prices increased this year to $35 for a one-day pass and $60 for the two-day pass, up from $15 and $25, respectively.

Also this year, the talent budget for the festival was increased, so the lineup featured more well-known artists than in the past. Acts included Taj Mahal, Mavis Staples and Dr. Ralph Stanley.

The date of the festival was also pushed forward, primarily to work around the MU football schedule.

Celebrate Your Roots and Discover the District programs were implemented to help bring customers to local businesses who have been hurt by the crowds downtown in the past. These programs offered discounts to festival-goers at a number of local shops and restaurants.

“We hope to grow that next year,” Brown said. “People may come in and not necessarily buy something, but it’s a great time for people to get publicity. The long-term impact on businesses is a great thing.”

Also new this year was a wedding. Casey Cannon and Marilyn Wells were married onstage at the festival between Saturday night performances.

“We are a music festival, not a wedding venue,” Brown said. “But the couple approached us and said they were huge blues fans. We were really excited about it and really wanted to make something special for them.”

There are no plans to host more weddings in the future, but officials are already meeting to talk about possible changes for next year.

“We’re doing some debriefing and seeing what we can improve,” Brown said. “Every year we try to improve an aspect. Everything was really great this year, but we’ll probably make some minor tweaks for next year.”

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Ray Shapiro September 21, 2011 | 5:42 p.m.

The best year yet, regardless of numbers.
Kudos to Richard King's group of volunteers, security personnel, police officers and all the music makers.
Even the attendees didn't get too drunk!
(Although there was more smoke than usual at the Sub Shop.)
I hate contact highs...

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