If you're gearing up for the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival this weekend at Stephens Lake Park, there's a few practical details to arrange before you can get movin' and groovin'. Here's your guide to paying, parking and packing for the big party.
Roots N Blues is once again implementing a “cashless payment system,” first introduced at last year's festival. The good news: No need to carry around your wallet! (Although you might still want to bring along your driver's license if you're 21 or older).
Instead of stuffing a wad of cash in your back pocket, you'll pre-load money onto your attendee wristband. You can do this online by creating an account associated with your wristband, or you can transfer funds via a top-up station on the festival grounds. Vendors will not accept credit, debit or cash, so you'll need a loaded account to buy food, drink or souvenirs. All you have to do is double-tap your band at each vendor booth, and the fancy technology will automatically deduct the money from your account. Cool, huh? If you run out of money (as you almost inevitably will), simply head back to a top-up station and fill 'er up.
“We try to provide customer service here, and I thought that was a great addition,” says Richard King, president of the festival.
There is no parking on festival grounds, so here are some options to get to Stephens Lake Park with minimal fuss:
1. Take a free shuttle. These will run round-trip from downtown parking garages to the park.
2. Take Go COMO, Columbia's public transit system, for free. After the last show of the festival, all buses will pick up at the Reichmann Pavilion to shuttle attendees back home.
3. Ride your bike! Get some exercise going to and from the festival.
4. Lastly, you can walk — Stephens Lake Park is only a little over a mile from downtown Columbia.
Definitely bring your own picnic blankets and chairs. Although there are usually hay bales available for seating, many guests choose the old-fashioned method: blankets on the grass. If you have a young tot, strollers are also allowed, and refillable water bottles are fine so long as they're empty upon arrival. Pack a poncho in case it rains, as umbrellas are not allowed on the premises.
If you're a budding videographer, leave behind your boom mike, but any non-professional recording equipment is allowed.
Don't plan on cooking your own meal and hosting a picnic by one of the stages. It's called the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, after all. No need to bring food, coolers or glasses (and, in fact, it's against the rules). Instead, try one of the fantastic local vendors serving up treats including barbecue, biscuits and beer.
Finally, leave Fido at home. As much as we'd all love to see your dogs, they'll do much better away from the lights and noise of the main event.
Anything else you need to bring? “Bring a clear mind," says Lisa Bartlett, art crew and visuals director for the fest. "And just plan on relaxing."
For further information, check out the Roots N Blues N BBQ website and look under FAQ.