As Family Roots Festival Grows, So Does The Organizer’s Family

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The Family Roots Festival is exactly what it sounds like: an event to get together with family and friends and have good-natured fun.

This past weekend, the festival ran for its third year at Smoke Rise Ranch.

With a vibrant mix of music, art and friendly people, it went off without a hitch, at least as far as the attendees knew.

"Now you see what we have to deal with," chuckled Raye Sanborn, a co-founder of the festival along with her husband Brian.

Raye was speaking of the difficulties they had providing the visiting bands with their hospitality requests.

For nearly an hour, she went back and forth through the festival, talking to other workers trying to figure out what sort of chocolates, chips, or drinks bands wanted.

The greatest feat however, is that Raye worked all weekend while nine months pregnant and caring for their toddler daughter. Their baby was due on Sunday, the final day of festival. That didn’t stop her though.

"We found out a week and a half ago, and we couldn’t exactly re-book the Jerry Garcia Band or many of the others, so we just decided to go for it. My midwives are all here for the festival and my birthing pool is at my cabin ready to go," she explained.

They are naming their baby boy Maverick, after Brian’s father Rick.

Not every band has a complex hospitality list though.

"Hospitality list? Do we even have one?" P.J. Rosenburg, percussionist and vocalist for Jones for Revival asked his bandmate Andre Ptitchkin, the Jones' bassist.

As new members to the band, they only knew that their list included the basics.

"We request water, energy drinks, and general snacks," said Ptitchkin.

Jones for Revival wouldn’t fit into any specific genre of music because their specialty is improvisation.

"We just read each other’s body language on stage, so it’s important that we’re close and really know each other," said Rosenburg on their improv methods.

With close-knit camping areas and a concentrated place of activity, everyone at Family Roots learns to be close.

"The festival consists of a large group of people who may not know each other, but still get together to listen to good music in harmony and to enjoy each other's company," Rosenburg said.

They might not need to be so close for much longer, however.

"We have a lot more space for camping if we need it; the ranch is larger than the section the festival operates on," said Mark Semingson, owner of Smoke Rise Ranch.

The Semingson family bought the ranch in the '90s, and being friends with the Sanborns, as well as having hosted other festivals and get-togethers before, were happy to collaborate with Brian and Raye.

The first two years the festival was run by the Sanborn and Semingson families: They controlled the gate, the bands’ hospitality needs and managed the stage.

This year, though, they were able to hire workers. Most of the work groups were local people they knew, but it still provided a more professional feel.

"The festival keeps growing every year," said Raye excitedly, "and hopefully we can continue to expand, get more popular and become one of the big names."