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      Roots N Blues attendees give new location high marks

      Megan Merrill, left, watches a band perform at Roots N Blues N Barbecue Saturday. Merrill said she liked the decision to move the festival to Stephens Lake Park this year.

      As the annual Roots N Blues N Barbecue wound down Sunday, attendees told KRCG 13 they felt the festival's new location was a good one.

      Megan Merrill, who has attended four Roots N Blues, said Stephens Lake Park is a much more appropriate setting for a music festival than downtown. Roots N Blues was held in downtown Columbia every year between 2007, its inaugural year, and 2012. Sitting across from her, Daniel Grover, who has also attended four Roots N Blues, agreed. He said the park lets everyone spread out and alleviates the crowds.

      Randy Rice, who was attending her first Roots N Blues, said she loved the park atmosphere.

      "This is my favorite park in the world, so it's been amazing," she said.

      Columbia Fire Marshal Brad Fraizer, who was also attending Sunday's concerts, said it was much easier to get around in the park than downtown.

      "It's opened up a lot, and easier to get around," he said.

      Organizers said the new location made things much eaiser on their end as well. Richard King, a partner in Thumper Entertainment and the owner of The Blue Note, told KRCG 13 staff had a much easier time setting up in the park.

      "You have two days to set up in the park as opposed to 8 hours, you're on the clock downtown, to set exactly up all this," he said.

      King would not give any specifics on this year's attendance but said it "exceeded our expectations." He did say about 6,000 to 7,000 people turned out Friday night.

      Attendees said organizers had a few things to work on. The shuttle buses were a common point. Fans said the buses were a good idea, but service was slow on Friday night. Others noted a toilet paper shortage or suggested the festival bring in more beer tents. King said organizers would look into all of these ideas.