Morale was high at Stephens Lake Park on Friday night despite an increasing queue to enter the festival grounds.
“Everyone has been very polite,” said Chase Barnwell, festival entrepreneur and EMT. “I keep telling them I’m sorry this line is so long, and they’re very understanding. I think they’re just here for fun.”
Friday marked the start of Roots N Blues, a three-day festival that brings together local and national musicians in Colombia.
This year, Roots N Blues is projecting participants via the CrowdPass app before entry. Under a tent near the main entrance, festival-goers are required to show full proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the day they attended. People can upload their vaccination or testing information into the app, which pre-selects documents for validity and authorizes entry to the festival grounds.
Roots N Blues advises people not to attend if they have recently been exposed to COVID-19 or are showing symptoms. More information can be found on the Roots N Blues website.
COVID screening slowed down the entry process for onlookers, but Barnwell said overall things appeared to be going smoothly. She was initially hired as an independent contractor to provide rapid COVID-19 tests to people without proof of vaccination or negative test. When the testing equipment did not arrive on time, she said she was dispatched to answer questions and help those awaiting testing get their information.
Michael Stroud and Grace Stotler are MU students who came to Roots N Blues for the first time this year. Upon entering, the two showed their vaccination cards and said the process was quite easy.
“It was pretty fluid,” Stroud said.
Stotler said she felt good without a mask in the more spaced areas, but could put one on if the crowd grew throughout the evening as an added precaution.
Sherry Major, a Columbia resident, has been to almost every Roots N Blues festival. She, like others, said the COVID registration and entry process was quick and hassle-free.
“I feel like I crossed the finish line, crossed all the lines,” said Major, wearing bracelets from each line. She waited in a line for the screening, another to enter the festival grounds, and a third to get a bracelet stating that she is over 21.
Melissa Langley is the Americans with Disabilities Act director for the event. His team provided seven to ten golf carts that take participants with disabilities to various locations on the course. She said she saw the slowed registration process as a minor issue in the operation, but noted that participants only had to get their COVID screening done once during the weekend.
“Fortunately, it’s a one-time deal. Once they get their verification, they get a bracelet that they can wear all weekend and don’t have to go back in that line,” Langley said. “This is just the initial part that we are working on the issues.”
Langley said that given the circumstances, it feels good to do something relatively normal.
“It’s just good to be outside doing something fun and light,” she said.
The festival doors open at noon on Saturday and Sunday.