COLUMBIA — Attendance was roughly the same at this year's Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival as last year even though ticket sales were down 10 percent, according to a news release from Thumper Entertainment, the festival organizers.
Approximately 52,000 people were in attendance, Thumper President Betsy Farris said, and visitors came from 35 states.
The free, nonticketed area around Flat Branch Park attracted more people than previous years, Farris said.
"We are really comfortable with our audience," Farris said. "We don't want to grow the audience, but we want to improve the experience for the fans."
New to the festival, which was held on Sept. 21 and 22, were nine murals painted on storm drains. The city teamed up with Thumper to create this storm drain art designed to increase environmental awareness while bringing a splash of color to downtown sidewalks.
A Sunday blues brunch was another new program Thumper brought to the table. On Sunday morning, customers of Bleu, Sycamore, Café Berlin and Broadway Brewery were able to enjoy their brunch while local musicians played.
"Music has a way of breaking down the barriers, and it has a way of bringing people together," Farris said.
More local businesses participated in the Celebrate Your Roots and Discover The District campaign, expanding it by more than 50 percent, according to the news release. The businesses offered Roots 'N' Blues specials during the festival weekend.
Eight central Missouri schools participated in the Blues in the Schools program, which expanded to a three-hour segment on the community stage at Flat Branch Park. Thumper hopes to broaden the program in 2013.
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