Roots Festival Day 3

Posted: September 2, 2016 at 1:51 p.m.

Day 3 of the 2017 Roots Festival included the KUAF tradition of the live broadcast of Ozarks at Large hosted at the Fayetteville Public Library. Following a day of masterclasses at the Brightwater culinary institute in Bentonville led by festival chefs, an impromptu community-style BBQ brought four distinguished chefs and students of the institute together for a fun meal.

Day three of the Fayetteville Roots Festival began bright and early on Saturday, Aug. 26, when the festival plaza opened to the general public at 8 a.m. during the Farmers’ Market. This is the first year the plaza was open to non-ticket holders and allowed them access to the special Roots Bistro and merchandise tables. Free programming started at 9 at the plaza and the Fayetteville Public Library. Here are some highlights from the events I attended:

• The chef cook-off on the festival plaza is one of the events festival organizers Jerrmy Gawthrop and Bryan Hembree look forward to most. The night before, eight Arkansas chefs are paired into teams and on Saturday morning, they shop at the market before using the local ingredients to create their dishes for the competition. A word to the wise: this year’s schedule had the competition listed as taking place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Several visitors showed up at noon thinking they had plenty of time to watch the cooking, sample the dishes and see the winner chosen. But by noon, chefs Matt Scott of Bordino’s and Jason Paul of Heirloom had already been crowned the winners.

• The live broadcast from the Fayetteville Public Library of the Roots edition of “Ozarks at Large” on Friday afternoon is a favorite festival event. Saturday is full of live music, too, though. In the morning, the Shook Twins gave a family-friendly concert before Joe Purdy and John Moreland took the stage in the Walker Community room at 11 a.m. I attended the third live broadcast of the morning which featured Still on the Hill and Roy & Aviva for a performance titled “Ozark Songs Past and Present.” The two duos are storytellers as much as they are performers. Roy & Aviva held up the “past” side of the program — “This is one of the newer songs we cover, written in 1937” — while Still on the Hill provided the “present” with their original tunes about people and places — and one about a golden fiddle — they’ve encountered while living in the Ozarks. The crowd poured out love for the duos and their downhome folk/bluegrass music before the musicians wrapped up the program all together with “a sentimental old tune called ‘My Ozark Mountain Home.’”

• The second “taste and talk” event took place at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at the library with another panel featuring representatives from White River Creamery Cheese — the only certified goat cheese dairy in Arkansas — in Elkins, Post Winery in Altus, BNA Wine Group of California and chefs Charlie Ayers of Calafia Cafe (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Vince Pianalto of Bouchée Bistro (Fayetteville). Moderator Daniel Hintz said these panel discussions are a way for the Northwest Arkansas community to become a part of “the conversation of food to its fullest extent all across the country.”

As with the previous day, both chefs discussed their contributions to and experiences with changes in the food industry. Tessa McCormick shared how White River is expanding as artisan cheese makers in the south as well as the relationship between the care and diet of her goats and the finished cheese product. Lee Green with Post discussed his challenges of changing people’s perceptions of the wine country in Arkansas, while Chris Wright with California-based BNA said their biggest obstacle is overcoming the idea that wine is snobby or pretentious. Visitors then were invited to taste sample plates created by chefs Ayers and Pianalto featuring two different cheeses from White River and paired with the wines. Hintz encouraged guests not only to taste the food, but to think about the dish, saying, “The collaboration on the plate is exactly what the Fayetteville Roots Festival is about.”

• Another event festival organizers were excited to add this year was the showing of the documentary film “At the Fork,” directed by filmmaker and proud meat-eater John Papola. Inspired in part by his vegetarian wife, Papola looks at the farming industry where animals are raised for consumption and explores the moral issues of those doing the raising and the consuming. The film was presented by Whole Foods, which partnered in production of the film, and Crystal Lake Farms in Decatur, which is featured in the film. Orein Bedwell with Crystal Lake gave a short presentation before the film to discuss the farm’s raising practices. Crystal Lake is featured in the documentary as an example of a company doing its best to treat the animals ethically — they are the largest pasture-raised poultry farm in the U.S. The film shows farmers discussing how the American consumers want more ethically raised meat products and the measures those large-scale farms may have to begin exploring to please the consumer but also maintain efficiency. Bedwell told the audience they vote with their dollars and the type of meat they choose to buy is the raising method they are voting for. Crystal Lake chicken is available at Whole Foods, Ozark Natural Foods, Richard’s Meat Market, Bentonville Butcher & Deli and at many local restaurants.

These programs are just a small sampling of the events that are part of the Fayetteville Roots Festival every year. The four-day festival is full of nationally touring, regional and even local music acts with immense talent, but for those unable to secure a ticket, there are so many music, food and community events open to the public. Don’t miss out on the incredible variety and engagement brought to downtown Fayetteville by the Roots Festival.