The Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival is returning for its 13th year Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Stephens Lake Park.

This year’s event includes 29 artists with Maren Morris, Jason Isbell, John Prine and Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals as headliners.

It’s the festival’s first year under new leadership. Former owner Richard King sold the company behind the event, Thumper Entertainment, in May to three of his employees. The new owners, Shay Jasper, Tracy Lane and Jamie Varvaro, are making subtle changes to make the event safer and more inclusive.

Increased security measures are one of these changes.

“Give yourself plenty of time to arrive in anticipation of our security checkpoint outside the entrance gate,” Lane said in an email.

While the security system is not necessarily different from previous years, she says it is more thorough. Every guest will be wanded by security and every bag will be checked.

“We just want to make sure everyone at the festival is safe and able to have a good time,” she said.

This year’s festival will also feature more accessible parking and free paratransit around the park.

Family fun is also a priority. Children ages 14 years and younger get into the event for free with paying adults. Parents can use provided white wristbands to write phone numbers in case a child gets separated.

Interactive art installations, a first aid station and storage lockers have also been added to the northeast quadrant of the festival grounds.

The Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival brings thousands of people to Columbia every year.

“(Columbia residents) may notice a volume increase of people on the streets in general,” said Megan McConachie, strategic communications manager of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 2018, the festival averaged about 10,000 attendees a day. McConachie says that surveyors will be sent to the festival to record the economic impact it has on the city of Columbia.

“Last chance” tickets are available through the festival’s website starting at $95.

  • Community reporter, fall 2019 Studying arts and culture journalism Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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