Chattanooga Now RootsFest returns

Chattanooga Now RootsFest returns

Weekend festival lets adults be kids again

May 16th, 2013 in Chattanooga Now - Art

Strung Like a Horse is, from left, BJ Hightower, Mark the Fiddler, Clay Maselle, Sloth and Ben Crawford.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


What: RootsFest 2013

When: Noon Friday, May 17, 9 p.m. Sunday, May 19

Where: Cherokee Farms, 2035 Old Mineral Springs Road, Lafayette, Ga.

Admission: $45 three days, $35 two days, $20 one day (tickets include camping)

Phone: 423-645-9699


Milele Roots

Milele Roots


Friday, May 17

• 5 p.m. Dakota Williams

• 5:35 p.m. Hot Damn

• 6:30 p.m. Function

• 7:35 p.m. Deep Machine

• 8:45 p.m. Milele Roots

• 10 p.m. Strung Like a Horse

Saturday, May 18

• 11 a.m. Rock Floyd

• 11:20 a.m. Carl Pemberton

• 12:05 p.m. Great Barrier Reefs

• 12:45 p.m. The Dirty Truth

• 1:30 p.m. Carbon Denominator

• 2:30 p.m. LTG

• 3:30 p.m. Maycomb Criers

• 4:30 p.m. Skip Cisto Band

• 5:30 p.m. Uncle Lightnin'

• 6:30 p.m. Molly Maguires

• 7:30 p.m. Microdahts

• 8:30 p.m. Freddy's Finest

• 9:30 p.m. Toubab Krewe

Sunday, May 19

• 11:30 a.m. Medicine Tree

• 12:15 p.m. Woodford Sessions

• 1 p.m. The Reigns Band

• 1:45 p.m. The Valley Singers

• 2:30 p.m. Lon Eldridge

• 3:10 p.m. Phugoids

• 4 p.m. Marlow Drive

• 4:45 p.m. Amber Fults

• 6 p.m. Red Clay Revival

• 7:15 p.m. Donna Hopkins Band

Ada Barnes may look like your average 20-something, but at heart she's really just a kid.

That's why, over the last seven years, her RootsFest music and arts festival has taken on an atmosphere that is increasingly carnival-like.

"I'm pretty excited about that; I love carnivals," says Barnes, who brought the festival to Lafayette, Ga., in 2006. "I really like the mystery and energy and awe that a carnival creates in people. You see people of all ages become 5 years old again."

The festival returns to the sprawling grounds of Cherokee Farms on Friday, May 17, and will continue through Sunday, May 19.

In addition to the normal mix of dancing, drum circles, face and body painting and live music on two stages, this year's RootsFest will appeal to the kid inside with trampolines, zany food vendors, a return of last year's water slide and a kids tent Barnes describes as "amped up." The Chattanooga Fire Cabaret also will return and performers have been given an even wider area to safely demonstrate their various skills as fire jugglers, swallowers, hoop dancers and more.

Originally, Barnes says, RootsFest was founded to provide a chance for local bands to benefit from the cross-pollination of playing in front of fans of other artists. Judging by the increasing number of collaborative performances at the festival, that goal has become fundamental to the festival's success, she says.

"It's been a blessing this year to see that all coming together," Barnes says, referencing a performance Saturday by Carbon Denominator, a new local super-group, and the pairing of local punkgrass greats Strung Like a Horse with folk rockers Hot Damn.

In particular, the evolution of Strung Like a Horse from a relatively unknown RootsFest booking to one of the area's most popular bands has been fun to watch for Barnes.

"No one knew who they were, and this year, they're about too big for me," she says. "It's amazing to have seen them come up."

Even more gratifying, Barnes says, is the fact that RootsFest has survived and grown when many other festivals never make it past their first year. She's not sure why that's the case. It could be because the festival has grown slowly, rather than desperately sprinting to achieve Bonnaroo-like stature, or because her self-described stubborn streak has kept her from giving up.

Whatever the reason, Barnes says, she's happy to offer people a chance to cast off their worries and enjoy life uninhibited for a few days.

"That was a lot of why I started it," she says, "to give bands a chance, to get weird crowds and for everyone to truly be able to be themselves, goof off for a weekend and play like they're kids."

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.