Reggae, soccer, and donating 100% of the proceeds to hurricane Irma relief

Based out of Cocoa Beach, FL, the Rootfire at the Park festival will take place November 10–12 at Riverfront Park. Though their mission to positively contribute to their community remains the same, this year they will be taking it to a new level with their recent donation announcement. Given the damage and displacement across the state, Rootfire hopes to ease relief efforts while providing upbeat music, and an immersive active lifestyle experience. Festival organizers Rootfire, Ineffable Live, and Deuterman Productions have announced that 100% of ticket proceeds from the upcoming Rootfire at the Park will be donated to Hurricane Irma relief efforts.

Returning to Cocoa Beach for the second year, the weekend-long outdoor music and lifestyle festival will feature top-tier headliners including Stephen Marley, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Shaggy, and Citizen Cope.

I recently had the chance to speak with Rootfire General Manager, Reid Foster about the spirit of Reggae music, the unique elements of this year’s festival and the power of giving back.

Thinking back to the start of Rootfire and bonding over Reggae music, what is it about Reggae that you feel translates so well to your personal mission to encourage community and a healthy lifestyle?

Reggae music is deeply embedded with history lessons and messages of social progress, and it has this uncanny ability to bring people together in a peaceful way. In a time when people are divided by headlines and knee-jerk emotional reactions to things we disagree with or don’t understand, we need to be reminded of the common ground we share, in our kitchens, in our living rooms, in our neighborhoods. The word “unity” is practically a mantra in reggae music, and that’s the kind of energy that we need in the world. That’s the kind of energy that grows gardens and tears down walls, and helps children grow up feeling loved and empowered.

One of the things I’ve always thought was so unique about Rootfire is how you so perfectly match artists (Michael Franti for example) with your mission and festival. What is your process in doing this?

That’s very kind of you, thank you. There’s only one Michael Franti, and we’re lucky to have him this year at Rootfire At The Park. But the truth is there are MANY artists in our world who share this same vision and ethos. The more we dig and learn about various artists, the more we see these common threads in their message and their values, so we do our best to shine a light on them. Actually selecting them for the festival is a process much like you might expect. Submissions come in from a million different directions, and we do our best to research them and build a great show.

This year, 100% of ticket proceeds from the upcoming Rootfire at the Park will be donated to Hurricane Irma relief efforts. That is a very special commitment. Where the idea came from and why?

The hurricane hit our community pretty hard, right at the moment we were planning to release single day tickets and ramp up our marketing. Our partner on the ground, Deuterman Productions, called us one night, ankle deep in water and told us “hey guys, its bad down here, right now is not the time to be selling tickets…” and the bigger picture became clear pretty quickly. People need help and we’re in a position to help them. It took us all of about two minutes to agree, it’s just the right thing to do and we feel really good about it.

What else will be new for fans at this year’s festival?

Aside from a lineup that goes beyond reggae this year, we’re excited to introduce a kid zone (Rockstar Row), hula hoop lessons, a beach cleanup on Saturday morning, a group bike ride on Sunday morning, more pickup soccer and group games throughout the day, and a ton of visual artists on site painting surfboards, carving tiki statues, screen printing t-shirts, and more.

There are a lot of unique components to the Rootfire at the Park festival like — giving out free sunscreen or having a soccer party (something Bob Marley would have loved) or having yoga. You really practice what you preach. It’s the little things that go a long way — what can you say about this element to the festival?

Everyone has been to an outdoor festival and reached a point in the afternoon where they just wish they could rest and recharge their soul a little bit. Things like sunscreen and water are critical for a full day outside, and we’re trying to create an environment where we would want to hang out all day too. Things like soccer, yoga, delicious food, and a family feeling are the icing on the cake.

There’s also a subtle call-to-action, it’s not just go to a festival, hang out and have fun. While that of course is there, there’s a theme to inspire. There’s a take-back to encourage concertgoers to continue to make a difference and take action. Is that a fair assessment?

100%. Before we turned the event into a benefit show, we had already made efforts to find a non-profit doing positive work in the community (Save The Manatees), to give our concertgoers an opportunity to learn and get involved in giving back to their own community. It’s all about putting the kind of energy into the world that we wish to receive from it. So anything we can do to make it fun for people to have a positive impact, that’s what we want to be doing.

The soccer party/soccer garden is a big component to what you do. Why do you feel soccer integrates so well with what you do in the music scene? How did this concept come to be?

We just featured an interview with Soccer Garden Party founder Julien Melendez, where he discusses this in depth. Soccer and reggae music have gone hand-in-hand forever. Being the most popular sport in the world, soccer has a way of building bridges between communities — and even countries — that might not find much common ground otherwise. Plus it’s just fun to get your blood flowing and feel some healthy competitive energy.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?

Rootfire At The Park last year was one of the greatest days of our lives, for more reasons than I can list. That’s what I’m looking forward to again this year…seeing smiles on peoples faces, feeling my feet in the grass, enjoying the fresh air and seeing the fruits of our labor….all of that energy is what I live for.

Rootfire GM — Reid Foster

For more information including tickets, lineups and info on the Soccer Garden party visit:

Can’t attend the festival, but still want to participate? Check out Rootfire — COOPERATIVE here.

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