Roots Festival organizers respond after Walton Arts Center closes

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The show will go on, said Fayetteville Roots Festival officials.

Festival organizers on Monday responded to the news that the Walton Arts Center is closed while workers repair the center’s roofing system.

The arts center is set to host several Roots Festival performances inside Baum Walker Hall in late August, but its unclear how long the roofing repairs will last.

“Thanks to everyone that have sent notes of concern upon reading the announcement from the Walton Art Center this afternoon regarding structural issues at the venue,” wrote organizers Bryan Hembree and Jerrmy Gawthrop in a news release. “We are watching the situation very closely.”

The two said they have a backup plan in case the Walton Arts Center is unable to open in time for the festival.

“Don’t worry folks…we have a Plan B,” stated the release. “We don’t know if we will have to exercise it yet. We will let you know as soon as we know.”

Peter Lane, arts center CEO, said engineers found significant problems with the trusses above the stage in Baum Walker Hall last week during preliminary work on an upcoming $23 million renovation of the facility.

The news came just days after officials consolidated and moved two performances from the arts center to the new Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers.

Officials first said the shows were moved because the $23 million renovation project “needs to be accelerated” in order to ensure work is completed in time for the fall performance season.

Lane said Monday, however, that engineers had “discovered that the current load on the existing trusses appeared to be excessive” and that Baum Walker Hall might not be safe for public occupancy.