ROOTS FEST: The best of what’s left: How to experience the Fayetteville Roots Festival if you don’t have tickets

Eliza Gilkyson / Courtesy photo


It happened again.

Here is it, just two days before the first events of the Fayetteville Roots Festival, and you don’t have a ticket.

Maybe you didn’t realize how quickly they would sell out – multi-day passes for the festival haven’t been available for several months. Maybe the full festival pass felt like more money than you were hoping to spend. Or maybe the breadth of choices left you overwhelmed – there’s so much to choose from it can be paralyzing.

First, the bad news: Some tickets are hard to come by right now. There are no Friday or Saturday mainstage tickets remaining. If you want to see Arkansas native Ronnie Hawkins receive a recognition called The Crazy Chester Award on Friday night, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s going to be touch. Same for Saturday, where acts such as The Milk Carton Kids and Rhiannon Giddens will perform. Good luck is all I can tell you.

But, now for the better news: There are still opportunities to see live music during The Roots Festival. A series of community-oriented and non-mainstage shows will take place throughout the festival, which begins with a smattering of events on Wednesday (Aug. 21). The festival swells in sizes and number of offerings until it concludes Sunday (Aug. 25). Along the way, there are opportunities to connect with the festival at community events or events that aren’t quite sold out.

What follows below is a day-by-day summary of what’s still available, with an emphasis on ways nonticket holders can get in on the action:

Note: What follows isn’t a comprehensive list. For a full schedule of events, see

Rising Appalachia / Courtesy photo

Wednesday, Aug. 21

5:30 p.m. – Chef Dinner at the Hive
Many of the chefs who have been invited in for the festival will assemble to provide a first-class dinner at The Hive, located at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville. Tickets are $199 plus fees – and at the time of this writing, there were only 2 spaces available.

Thursday, Aug. 22

4 p.m. – The Legendary Pacers (free), George’s Majestic Lounge
George’s Majestic Lounge will host the Arkansas-raised rockabilly act The Legendary Pacers. They were rock ‘n’ roll pioneers and recorded for the famous Sun Records in Memphis.

8:30 p.m. – The Mighty Pines (free), George’s Majestic Lounge
Later at George’s is another free show. This one features The Mighty Pines, a St. Louis-based roots rock band with soul influencers.

Two-day culinary pass
If you’d like to see St. Paul & the Broken Bones on Thursday at the Roots Festival and sample from a variety of chefs (and trust me, you should), this is your best opportunity. For $199 (plus fees), you can attend a party at Pratt Place on Thursday and Saturday. This pass doesn’t make include any mainstage access, but it will get you two nights of music and food.

Friday, Aug. 23

Noon – KUAF live recording (free), Fayetteville Public Library
There’s no word on which performers might make a special appearance at the Fayetteville Public Library for this event. But, if past years give us any indications, it may just be all of the headliners of the festival. KUAF records an annual, live broadcast as a teaser to the festival. It highlights the artists who will perform and the chefs who will serve up food.

9 p.m. – The Women of Roots Fest (free), Kingfish
During the entirety of Friday evening, Kingfish will feature female talent, including Kalyn Fay, Cindy Woolf, Sarah Hughes and Diane Rudolph. The music is expected to continue until nearly 1 a.m.

10:30 p.m. – Dylan Earl (free), Maxine’s Tap Room
Local country throwback artist Dylan Earl stops in Fayetteville for a show in Fayetteville. Earl is out supporting a brand-new album, “Squirrel in the Garden” and the show at Maxine’s, like all of them during Roots, are free.

Roots Fest organizer Bryan Hembree and KUAF’s Kyle Kellams / File photo

Saturday, Aug. 24

1:30 p.m. – KUAF live recording (free), Fayetteville Public Library
Just like the Friday recording, except it’s on Saturday, and it’s at 1:30 p.m. instead of noon. You’ll want to show up early – admission is first come, first served and has a habit of reaching capacity long before the programming starts.

10 p.m. – Big Smith and Arkansauce, George’s Majestic Lounge
Big Smith helped define the region’s newgrass sound. Arkansauce is one of genre’s best local contributors. They’ll team up for back-to-back shows at George’s as the official late-night shows of the Roots Fest. Tickets are $25 in advance or $27 at the door, if space remains.

11:15 p.m. – Her Crooked Heart (free), The Graduate Hotel
If you don’t have tickets to see Her Crooked Heart on the Sunday mainstage, this is a good opportunity to get a glimpse. They’ll play a free show at The Graduate (that’s the new name for the downtown hotel formerly called The Chancellor) that will cross you over into Sunday morning. Led by the songwriter Rachel Ries, Her Crooked Heart released an album earlier this year that the band will be eager to support.

Sunday, Aug. 25

2:30 p.m. – Neil Young tribute, Maxine’s Tap Room
I’m having trouble finding specifics about this event, but it’s listed on the Roots Fest website. Here’s what appears to be all you know – it’s at Maxine’s, which is a great bar, and it will feature musicians performing songs by Neil Young, who is a great musician.

2:30 – 10 p.m. – Mainstage activities at Roots Fest
No tickets are remaining for Friday or Saturday at the Roots Fest. But, if you’d like to catch the Sunday acts, you can still jump in and buy a ticket. Performing are artists such as Eliza Gilkyson, Los Texmaniacs and Rising Appalachia. Tickets are $79 plus fees.