Day 3 of Roots Fest 2017, Friday, was the first full day of Roots programming -- 9 a.m. to after midnight. With free community programming happening in both Fayetteville and Bentonville on top of the culinary events and music lineup, it is impossible for one to hit every single thing happening at Roots. It does, however, provide the opportunity to pick and choose from topics of interest or new experiences.
• At noon, the Fayetteville Public Library held up the annual tradition of hosting the live radio broadcast of KUAF's Ozarks at Large. The two days prior to this broadcast, live recordings were made at other events -- on Wednesday at Crystal Bridges Museum, and on Thursday at the VIP opening party -- to be broadcast at a later time, but Friday's show remains the only broadcast during Roots to air live from location.
• Always a popular Roots event, the meeting room at the library was filled to capacity with viewers, with chairs set up in the hall so more people could watch as the program was played on a television in the hallway. Though several festival acts had been announced or were expected to appear on the show, in a (sort of) surprise reveal, the broadcast opened with a performance by Friday night headliners The Wood Brothers.
• The show's second guest, P. Allen Smith, chatted with host Kyle Kellams about the festival's fusion of the culinary arts and music arts, as well as the television host's surprisingly introverted nature. The two also discussed gardening, of course, as Smith (an Arkansas native) is one of America's most recognized gardening and design experts. "That's what I love about this part of the country -- there are so many good gardeners!" Smith exclaimed after his inquiry of how many in the audience were also gardeners.
• Following an upbeat performance by The Honey Dewdrops, my fellow features reporter Lara Hightower filled the shoes of my editor Becca Martin-Brown, who usually participates in the KUAF live show. With Becca needed elsewhere on Friday, Lara rose to the occasion and informed the "studio" and listening audiences of the special back-to-school edition of What's Up! released last week. The issue, and Lara's spot in the broadcast, are filled with helpful lists -- for new Fayetteville transplants and maybe to serve as a reminder to those not so newly minted Arkansans -- of some of the best and most wonderful things Northwest Arkansas has to offer.
• FPL's executive director made an appearance to update listeners about the library's upcoming 80,000 square foot expansion -- a project we'll start seeing visible progress on by early next year.
• Arkansas native Joe Purdy came next, giving the audience plenty of laughs between and during his songs -- for which the crowd gave a standing ovation.
New this year was Roots' expanded programming in Bentonville. With the opening of the Brightwater culinary institute at the 8th Street Market, festival organizer Jerrmy Gawthrop says the festival was presented with the opportunity for some unique crossover programming benefiting the students.
• All day Friday, visiting chefs were conducting masterclasses at Brightwater. They were in the bakery, on the patio, in the classrooms -- sharing their expertise and experience with the future chefs as well as the public, as all the programming was free and open to the public. "Everybody was excited about something" that was said or shared, said Digby Stridiron, guest chef from St. Croix. "That's what it's all about because at the end of the day, they're going to take away things they wouldn't have come in contact with [if they hadn't participated in this masterclass]."
• Rather than another lesson-based class, the final scheduled masterclass of the day turned into an impromptu barbecue with all the chefs still hanging around -- Stridiron, Tusk & Trotter's Rob Nelson (Bentonville), South on Main's Matt Bell (Little Rock), Paul Allen (Springfield), and Table 28's Scott Rains (Little Rock).
Using leftover food from everything else that was prepared that day, the chefs threw together family-style meal with Jerk chicken, Asian-inspired noodles, doughnuts on the grill and a salad of oven-roasted veggies.
"Brightwater helped bring this together," Nelson said. "Tonight on Dickson and [the rest of the festival], we'll be prepping and cooking all day long and have our heads down working -- there won't be much talking. But right now we're getting to hang out and it's fun. It's community."
"I don't always get the food scene I want in Springfield," Allen revealed. "So I came down here to get involved in this." He adds enthusiastically, "I saw [the students'] eyes light up; they've been interactive. So we wanted to do some things that are fun that you normally wouldn't do." Like doughnuts on the grill.
• Watching the chefs collaborate and joke around together -- the way music fans at festivals often get to watch their favorite artists do with fellow festival acts -- was certainly a highlight of the day. There was music playing in the background, there was laughter, there was communal atmosphere with family-style dining. And true to the festival's mantra, the chefs were treated like rock stars -- interacting with and answering questions from eager culinary students while playing host to a fun barbecue.
"The concept of building music and the concept of building food is the same," said Stridiron. "There's a constant flow throughout. It can't just be a good hook; you have to think about the presentation throughout. Making everybody sit down together, and serving the food [family-style] forces everyone to interact and create that community atmosphere."
Read coverage of Day 2 here.
NAN What's Up on 08/27/2017
Print Headline: Roots Fest Day 3