Full Hearts, Full Stomachs

Full Hearts, Full Stomachs

Roots Fest culinary side offers more than food



Even in its first year — when there was only one stage and a handful of musical acts — culinary arts have shared the spotlight with music at the Fayetteville Roots Fest. When Bryan and Bernice Hembree found themselves with more musician friends and acquaintances passing through town than they could fit in their home for a house concert, they asked Greenhouse Grille’s Jerrmy Gawthrop if they could use his restaurant instead.

“We did some food pairings,” Gawthrop remembers. “The food element was curated and thoughtful — we were putting thought into it from the first day.”

Fast forward to today, and, in the ninth year of the festival, the celebration of food has exploded. More than 50 names are on this year’s list of featured chefs, and they range from local superstars like Matthew McClure and Jason Paul to internationally known names like television stars/authors Graham Elliot and Georgia Pellegrini.

“One of our mantras has always been to treat the chefs like rock stars,” says Gawthrop. “All of these tastings and pairings and teaching artists and collaborations — it takes an effort to explain it, but chefs agree that it makes it fun for them. We’re allowing them to collaborate: ‘Come to this event and do something different’ versus ‘You’re in a parking lot, we need 800 samples of something on some Saturday in your life.’”

The theme of food is woven throughout the festival, with free community events held at the Fayetteville Public Library and major culinary events throughout the three-day period.

Wednesday, Aug. 21

Roots Chef Dinner at the Hive

200 NE A St., Bentonville

Features eight of the festival’s guest chefs, beverage pairings, art installation and live music.

“They’re building beautiful plates, it’s a beautiful environment, they’re making great pairings,” says Gawthrop. “And Rachel Belle is doing a panel discussion at the end of it. She’s a well-known podcaster, an Edward R. Murrow Award winner.”

Thursday, Aug. 22

The Grand Tasting and Folk Family Reunion

Pratt Place, 2231 W. Markham Road, Fayetteville

Spend opening night of the festival with more than 50 guest chefs at dozens of tasting stations and music by St. Paul & the Broken Bones, John Fulbright and Yola.

“Most people love [all the culinary events] but they might say this is their favorite, because it has a real family reunion vibe,” says Gawthrop. “But at my family reunion, we don’t have a nationally recognized touring band or 50 chefs — I don’t know about yours! There are no long lines, it’s just wide open for you to visit breweries, wineries, chef stations, listen to music in the shade, and it feels like you know everybody there.”

Friday, Aug. 23

Master Classes at Brightwater

801 SE 8th St., Bentonville

More than 20 guest chefs take to the culinary classrooms for this afternoon program at Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, open to students and to the public. This event will also host the fifth annual Roots Chef Cook Off competition featuring eight chefs and a VIP Master Class with Georgia Pellegrini.

“Brightwater is our hub and our home for the chefs,” says Gawthrop. “They’ve got the greatest catering kitchen in the world. We have students working with chefs and taking over the whole campus — it’s amazing. They spared zero expense on everything. They have more equipment than I’ve ever seen, and it’s all digital and amazing.”

Saturday, Aug. 24

Roots Food and Spirits

Pratt Place, 2231 W. Markham Road, Fayetteville

Fayetteville Roots Food & Spirits acts as a culinary cornucopia featuring more than 50 chefs participating in a diverse array of programs including themed tasting events, spirit and beer activations, panel discussions, culinary themed makers marketplace, cookbook signings and demonstrations. Headlining musical acts include the Travelin’ McCourys and Jeff Austin Band, plus a combined set dubbed “Grateful Ball.”

“You’re getting food that’s cooked right behind the chef — it makes everything taste a little bit better,” says Gawthrop. “This is an environment where [the chefs] are so excited, and they have so much fun with it — and they have an opportunity to do something different. That level of excitement makes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. [The chefs] respect the event and we respect them, and the food they bring is just phenomenal.”

Sunday, Aug. 25


Tri Cycle Farms, 1705 Garland Ave., Fayetteville

This event acts as a spotlight and fundraiser for one of Roots Fest’s partners, Tri Cycle Farms. With an urban farm party vibe, the event includes a farm tour, live music, tastings, local beers and family friendly activities.




The Fayetteville Roots Fest offers different levels of ticket packages — find out more about tickets and musical events by visiting their website at therootsfest.org.

Categories: Food