Rocking Roots

Head to northwest Arkansas for a weekend of great music and food.


The Fayetteville Roots Festival brings roots music, local food and culture and heritage to northwest Arkansas each year. Photos by Jeremy Scott.

During the sleepy months of summer break, Fayetteville, Ark., enjoys a break from the raucous crowds of co-eds calling the hogs. In August, those University of Arkansas students storm back into their picturesque college town, and the residents of Fayetteville celebrate the end of summer with the Fayetteville Roots Festival, three days of music, food and culture.

When Oklahoma native Brian Hembree partnered with renowned chef Jerrmy Gawthrop to begin the Fayetteville Roots Festival, which had its inaugural event in 2010, he viewed the event as a deviation from the traditional music festival.


“We definitely call it a food and music festival,” says Hembree. “Jeremy is on the forefront of the local and organic food movement [in Arkansas], and he has set the tone in Fayetteville.”

The food at the festival is rivaled only by the musical acts. Restaurants partner with farmers to bring a taste of local food to festival-goers. On Saturday, the Fayetteville Farmers Market sets up shop in the middle of the festival, allowing attendees to shop the bounty of northwest Arkansas. A chef’s competition will pit local chefs using local ingredients against one another.

Stay In Style

The Chancellor Hotel is within walking distance of the festival and offers festival-goers a special rate.

Inn at Carnall Hall is located on the University of Arkansas campus and offers a variety of well-appointed rooms. Located within a half-mile of festival activities, it’s removed from the hustle and bustle of Dickson Street.

Devil’s Den State Park is located south of Fayetteville.

Devil’s Den State Park is located south of Fayetteville.

While You’re There

• Swing north to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville.

• Head south to Devil’s Den State Park for picturesque scenery and hiking and cycling trails.

• Take a stroll through the scenic grounds of the University of Arkansas campus.

John Fullbright will play the festival’s main stage on Friday. Photo by Vicki Farmer

John Fullbright will play the festival’s main stage on Friday. Photo by Vicki Farmer.

The Lineup

Fayetteville Roots Festival Aug 27-30

This year’s music lineup features a who’s who of roots and folk music, including several renowned Oklahoma artists.

On Friday, Broken Arrow native JD McPherson headlines the main stage. Bearden, Okla., native John Fullbright and Tulsan John Moreland will also play to the audience. Roots musician and regular Cain’s visitor Pokey LaFarge is also scheduled to take the main stage on Friday.

Saturday’s main stage features festival headliner Punch Brothers, along with a trio of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan. Hembree and his wife, Bernice, who play as Smokey & The Mirror, will also take the stage for a set.

On Sunday, the legendary Watkins Family Hour, along with Fiona Apple, Don Heffington and other special guests, will wow the crowds on the final night of the main stage. Texan Jimmy LaFave and Devon Sproule are also scheduled for the Sunday slot.


  • Tickets to the festival are expected to sell out, so purchase quickly.
  • No ticket? No problem. Visitors will have access to free radio broadcasts, workshops and programming.
  • Stock the car with an ice chest to keep purchases from the Fayetteville Farmers Market fresh.
The local food movement is central to the Fayetteville Roots Festival. Photo by Meredith Mashburn.

The local food movement is central to the Fayetteville Roots Festival. Photo by Meredith Mashburn.

Eat Local

A festival food court will feature local restaurants using ingredients from local farms to feed festival-goers. Gawthrop’s first restaurant, Greenhouse Grille, along with Brick House Kitchen, Ella’s Restaurant and Pure Joy Ice Cream are among those who will set up shop in the food court on Friday and Saturday of the festival.

Another aspect crucial to the mission of the Fayetteville Roots Festival is giving back. This year, the festival will partner with Feed Fayetteville and Fayetteville Public Schools to bring fresh, nutritious food to school children and those in need.