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The Slambovian Circus of Dreams tops the bill at the 19th annual Roots on the River festival in Bellows Falls.

The Arts

The old and the new

Roots on the River celebrates 19 years of music, from longtime festival regulars to emerging artists

For more information, the complete schedule, and to purchase tickets, go to, or call 802-460-3333.

BELLOWS FALLS—Roots on the River Festival, produced by Vermont Festivals LLC, will celebrate its 19th year on Friday, June 8, at 3 p.m. when the gates open on a full weekend of music.

“It’s an enviable record for any all-volunteer event,” promoter Ray Massucco said.

The festival has announced that this year’s nonprofit beneficiary of the festival is the Bellows Falls Fire Department, members of which will also be on hand as volunteers throughout the weekend.

“We are proud to recognize the Department for its contribution in keeping our village safe,” Massucco said.

The festival will once again welcome fan favorites, as well as first-time appearances, to the stage.

This year, Vermont Festivals is pleased to have veteran festival artists Mary Gauthier, The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, and The Black Lillies returning as headliners.

“Each artist attracts their own dedicated following and we are expecting record turnouts on all three days,” Massucco said.

Mary Gauthier’s Rifles & Rosary Beads was nominated as record of the year by the Americana Music Association.

“That is a huge honor and recognition of Mary’s groundbreaking collaboration with wounded veterans to create an entire album of their songs,” Massucco said.

Part of the mission statement of Vermont Festivals is to introduce fans to new artists, along with local and regional artists who deserve a wider audience than they might otherwise reach.

Among regional artists in this year’s lineup are Miss Guided Angels, Bayou X, Low Lily, along with Vermont’s own Starline Rhythm Boys celebrating their 20th anniversary.

Coming up from a little further out are Julie Rhodes, Hayley Reardon, Alice Howe, and The End of America.

Seasoned artists Roger Marin, Nora Jane Struthers, Freebo, and Vance Gilbert, from Los Angeles to Ontario and beyond, round out the weekend.

Friday and Saturday shows will be at the Rodeway Inn on Route 5 in Rockingham. The popular Sunday show, which often sells out early, is held at the Rockingham Meeting House.

Parking is free, kids and pets (at the Rodeway) are welcome and the festival is smoke free and family-friendly. Admission is free for kids 9 and under with an adult; ages 10 to 16 are $10 at the gate for any show.

Saturday features a youth tent from noon to 6 p.m., so parents can enjoy the music while their children are entertained and supervised.

Day, weekend, and deluxe tickets are available, from $35 to $145 in advance at

Deluxe ticket holders get reserved seats under the big tent, early admission to shows, a catered hospitality tent on Friday to meet and greet with artists, souvenirs, and reserved parking.

The weekend festivities include pre-festival open mic shows Thursday at 7 p.m. at PK’s Pub and Friday at noon at the Flat Iron Exchange on the Square.

Seating under the big tent at the Rodeway Inn is on a first-come, first-served basis, but blankets and lawn chairs are always welcome.

Local food and beverage vendors will be onsite, so coolers should be left in the parking lot, and, for safety, no glass containers are allowed on the site.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #461 (Wednesday, May 30, 2018). This story appeared on page B1.

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