COLUMBIA — Despite minor mishaps during the Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival, festival-goers seemed happy with the event's new venue.
On the final day of the three-day festival, the majority of complaints about the move to Stephens Lake Park concerned the shuttle service and transportation to the park.
Anne Moore used the shuttle all weekend and said that despite some difficulty early on, it worked reasonably well.
"Friday night, the wait was very long, and I ended up sharing a taxi with three people," Moore said.
She said that it seemed easier to get to Stephens Lake Park than to leave on the shuttle system and that the service improved over the course of the weekend.
The festival had planned on using just nine school buses at the outset, said Betsy Farris, president of Thumper Entertainment. But five more were added on Saturday to accommodate an increase in attendance
Farris said the festival will likely add even more shuttles next year.
Kelly Schultz and her family took the shuttle from the Hampton Inn Columbia on Sunday morning and said it took 20 minutes to arrive at the festival.
"It's inconsistent as far as timing," event volunteer Fa'tima Miller said. "It just depends on how many people are on the bus."
Other attendees parked downtown or found spaces in neighborhoods outside of the park. Michael Warrick parked about a mile away from the entrance and said the only negative part of the weekend was transportation.
"I considered (taking the shuttle), but you always want access to your vehicle in case you want to book it early," Warrick said.
Although the move away from downtown altered event accessibility, the park has fared well with festival fans and those who live right across the street from the park entrance.
Alicia Ciolli lives on East Walnut Street, just north of the park's entrance, and said the festival has brought people in their neighborhood together. She and neighbors have barbecued in their backyards while enjoying the music traveling from the park to the neighborhood.
"I think it's great," Ciolli's neighbor Ron Echternach said. "It adds vibrance to the general feeling of the neighborhood."
The streets and city buildings of downtown once made up the festival grounds, but this weekend 49 acres of grass became the new home of the annual fall event. Echternach said the old venue doesn't compare.
"The food and everything is all in one big area, and it's all intermingled," Ciolli said. "I like that it's open. You have elbow room to dance."
Festival-goers also included those who were traveling from outside of Columbia.
This year was Tyler Mary Stewart's first time to the blues festival. The Kansas City resident said the weekend was beautiful and "you couldn't ask for anything better." She was concerned about a lack of sanitizer by the portable toilets and difficulty finding a water station but enjoyed the festival overall.
"It's a very friendly, warm, hospitable fest that I think will get bigger," Stewart said.
It's still too early to tell whether the new venue hurt attendance. Farris said that information on ticket sales weren't yet available. But festival organizers expected a lower turnout this year, according to previous Missourian reports.
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