Start with the Fayetteville Roots Festival Aug. 28-31. Four days of food. Four days of music. Ten stages. Fifteen vendors at farmer markets. Over eighteen musicians. The entire town. Good times for all, held in common.
Music ties our joys, sadnesses, and celebrations together. Usually in the South, we also throw in eating and sharing, even at funerals. Couple all that with our family histories of those rugged people who lived hardscrabble lives on our stony land, and you’ve got the Fayetteville Roots Festival.
The “Farmers of the Festival” is a partnership between the music of the Roots Festival and the farms offering organic produce, natural meats and eggs, flowers, and other food products. A perennial favorite among Fayetteville citizens and locavore aficionados, the Farmer’s Market has glowed with icon status since 1973. Fresh produce sold April through November, moves directly from the farmer to the family table. Any Saturday, Tuesday, or Thursday morning pick-up trucks line the Town Square, lay out Washington and Madison County vegetables, flowers, and small fruits. Handmade wooden spoons, knitted tea cozies, woven tablecloths, and hand thrown pottery booths pay homage to old crafts. Fiddling, washboard scratching, and guitar picking trills across the market and seals our sense of community.
A ‘food’ root, or more precisely a partnering of restaurant chefs, provides the main culinary event featuring two restaurants- Greenhouse Grille and Ella’s Restaurant who pride themselves on using seasonal ingredients for gourmet dishes. This year an eclectic collection of pickers and singers hail from Canada and Oregon, California and places deep in the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks. Down to the person, when asked where they eat while out touring and performing, they respond “ask the locals.”
Nova Scotia native Steve Poltz says he walks around the streets and finds those funky blocks where people congregate to eat and listen to music. Mark Bilyeu and Cindy Woolf hail from Missouri, where good home-cooked country food is common, play guitar, banjo, and slide guitar and choose local eateries every chance they get when touring. California native and current Oregon resident Tony Furtado shops food co-ops and Whole Foods stores. Shannon Wurst says she starts a conversation with folks and asks about local restaurants; that way, she makes friends and enjoys local fare. Home girl and headline musician Lucinda Williams claims biscuits and sorghum a favorite when visiting the area.
The quintessential model for our food and music choices are our parents, grandparents and neighbors. These ancestor roots sink deep into our souls and make us who we are.
Roots Festival 2014 recognizes kith and kin with several workshops in the Fayetteville Public Library Walker Room.
Joshua Youngblood University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections will show how to use historical manuscripts, folklore archives, databases, and digital collections to conduct personal and family research. Highlighting recent digitization projects from the UofA Libraries, Joshua will give an overview of folklore archives in Special Collections and show how everyone can use archives to find out more about their own stories.
Rachel Reynolds Luster, Folklorist and contributing editor of Art of the Rural, offers Field School 101: Documenting Your Cultural History workshop.
A live radio broadcast of Tales from the South produced by Paula Martin Morell in conjunction with UALR’s Rhetoric and Writing department, showcases writers reading their own true stories. Anais Mitchell and Anthony Da Costa will be featured-guest musicians.
Food, music, and lineage shape us into unique beings celebrating a shared sameness as well as diversity, mirror images of our common anchoring roots.
Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Happy Woman Blues, Ramblin’, West
3 Penny Acre – 3Penny Acre, Highway 71
Tim O’Brien – Away Out on the Mountain, Two Journeys, Cornbread Nation
Darrell Scott – Aloha from Nashville, Live in NC
Jimmy Scott – Dream
Mark Bilyeu – First One Free
Anais Mitchell – Hadestown
Wood Brothers – Loaded
Jay Farrar – Sebastopol
Benjamin Del Shreve – Sleeping Sweetly
Old Crow Medicine Show – Tennessee Pusher
Tony Furtado – Within Reach