Being a part of Roots and Blues doesn’t require one to be on the festival grounds.
This was Lee Brown’s sixth year at the event, though he spends more time outside of the festival grounds than in.
Brown, of Nelson, is the owner/operator of Beneath the Bodhi Tree, which specializes in imported clothing – something specifically prohibited in the Roots and Blues application form for artisan market vendors.
“They don’t let people who sell imported goods into Salmon Arm Roots and Blues – well, they do, but you have to lie,” says Brown with a smile. “So, we said, OK, if you won’t sell it in there, fine, we’re not going to lie. We’ll find a place out here.”
Brown sets up each year on the corner of Fifth and Fifth, on Centenoka Park Mall property across from the event’s main entrance. To do so, he acquires a business licence from the City of Salmon Arm, in addition to having a positive relationship with the mall.
“Since we set up here, all these guys have come along. So it’s been good,” says Brown, pointing to the vendors neighbouring his booth.
Asked how business has been on the fringe, Brown says it’s on the decline, which he feels mirrors the festival itself.
“About three years ago I noticed it, less people coming to it, less eclectics,” says Brown. “When I first arrived at this thing, it was unbelievable, this town was bumping. They used to have the music downtown, it used be revved up, you felt there was an energy here. And now people just show up and watch the music.”
That said, Brown calls the musical acts fantastic and sees potential for growth in the vendors’ market.
One of Brown’s new neighbours this year was FunHog Adventures selling a product one might not associate with the name: ice cream.
“Because we like having fun,” says Jacob Doyle.
“And we like ice cream,” adds wife Emily Doyle.
FunHog is the Doyle’s new home-based business in Salmon Arm. The ice cream wagon, one of two, is a part of it.
Jacob explained the ice-cream wagon was supposed to have been at another event last weekend, but it was cancelled so they wound up setting up for Roots and Blues (with business licence and permission from the mall).
Jacob said he would like to have been on the Roots and Blues grounds, but they already had ice cream vendors booked.
“We asked earlier in the year,” said Jacob, with Emily adding they conveniently live right down the street.
Though they’ve both attended Roots and Blues in the past, the Doyles said this was their first year as a vendor.
“Roots and Blues is excellent, every year is excellent,” said Jacob.
“We know so many people (at the event),” adds Emily. “It’s nice to be in a festival in our hometown.”
The youngest entrepreneurs outside of Roots and Blues were undoubtedly Ashante Krizay, Kenzie Carroll, Colby and Jordyn Yost and Oliver Corley, who had a little lemonade and iced tea stand on Fifth Avenue outside the volunteer entrance. This is the kids’ third year with the stand and Corley, said last year they pulled in more than $1,000. So the kids were stoked to be doing it again. And what do they do with the money? They go to the festival to buy stuff and watch the bands.
Undoubtedly, the vendor who has been the longest on the fringe of Roots and Blues is Rosa Guthrie of Rosa’s Taco Stand. She said this was her ninth, and that by and large, being just outside of Roots and Blues in Blackburn Park has been beneficial.
“I depend on this. This is the icing on the cake,” says Guthrie, noting she has customers who customarily visit the taco stand as part of their annual Roots and Blues visit.
Fans of the taco stand may have to eat elsewhere next year though, as Guthrie has the business up for sale. She says age and issues over accessing the stand have prompted the decision, and she’ll miss being part of the Roots and Blues experience outside of Roots and Blues.