It feels like every year, Kaw River Roots Fest surprises us with a little more. This year was no exception, as they proved that despite last-minute changes, this was still a highly successful event for the local music scene.

For one, they changed the date of the event. In previous years, Kaw River Roots Fest was held in August. But with it being so close to Winfield and FidPick, fans got a little worn out trying to hit up all the bluegrass and roots events in the span of one month. So organizers scooted it up to June.

You’d think having it earlier would help with the heat. Ha! No. This is Kansas. The weather is unpredictable. But the heat wasn’t as big of an issue thanks to another new development: a new outside stage with plenty of shading. It was picture perfect, with the raging Kansas River set behind the musicians (and ample tents and seating, as well as refreshments outside).

But perhaps the best part of this year’s fest was seeing our favorite consistent trend: folk and bluegrass fans will always show up for the bands. They pull through and support the musicians in ways other genres struggle with. Unfit Wives had their biggest crowd yet (duh, they’re fantastic) while Split Lip absolutely PACKED the place. I mean, these are guys we see every weekend in their other musical endeavors. But coming back from the Split Lip hiatus really brought the town together. We can’t remember the last time we heard the entire crowd singing along at Kaw River Roots Fest.

You can see photos from the weekend below:



Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 20 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more.

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