Bloom Heavy River Romp is kicking summer off with a bang

Friday, June 8, 2012
The Big Idea performs during the Bloom Heavy River Romp. (Submitted photo)

The summer festival season is upon us.

As you read this, more than 80,000 folks are rocking at one of the biggest music, arts and camping festivals in the nation, Bonnaroo in southeastern Tennessee. If you are wishing you were one of them, don't fret; the last weekend in June will bring with it Southeast Missouri's miniature version of Bonnaroo, the Bloom Heavy River Romp.

A brainchild of local musician and promoter Alex Barney, Bloom Heavy Productions organizes several live music shows at local venues year-round and festivals in the summer and fall. This will be its second River Romp, which takes place June 28 to 30 at Arrowhead Campground in Grassy, Mo. Since Bloom Heavy's start in 2010, its annual summer music and camping collaborations have become some of the most popular events in the area. It has grown from a small Bloomfield, Mo. event with makeshift staging and around 30 people in attendance, to more than 250 people the first year at Arrowhead Campground in 2011, to gaining bigger sponsors and having to cap ticket sales at 2,500 to keep crowding at a minimum.

"The festival has grown leaps and bounds since its inception back in Bloomfield, and moving to Arrowhead has been one of the key factors in Bloom Heavy's success. Having the Castor River for people to cool off in is always a plus for festival patrons," Barney said. "We have also improved our lineup by adding monster acts like Yonder Mountain String Band, who is probably the top bluegrass act in the nation at the moment. Our staff is ultimately the key component to making Bloom Heavy the success it has been, though. We're lucky to have some very creative folks involved."

The music Barney and crew have in line for this year's River Romp consists of mainly bluegrass acts; touring bands like the Grammy-nominated Del McCoury Band, Split Lip Rayfield and Cornmeal and local favorites Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy and The Big Idea.

"I've probably been to every Bloom Heavy event, and I've come to expect a higher quality of music from them. But I feel they have never backed down from those expectations," said Brandon Kohrman, who also volunteers with the organization. "The lineup features high caliber talent this area hasn't seen before. It stands out in scale to events and community festivals in the region."

Barney said gaining support from main sponsor and St. Louis brewery Schlafly, along with having more than 20 vendors with everything from gyros to jewelry, has allowed Bloom Heavy to upgrade the fan experience at River Romp.

"We will now have Schlafly's craft beers and their beer tents, and Port Cape will be offering a special menu to our customers. Along with the great camping at Arrowhead, the vendors will make a good time great," Barney said.

Girls play with hula-hoops during the Bloom Heavy River Romp concert.

Preparation for any festival can be time consuming, so consider the following things before packing for Arrowhead Campground and save some time:

* Tickets: River Romp tickets and camping and RV passes range from $30 to $150, and you can get yours at Hempies in downtown Cape Girardeau, or Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Barney said Bloom Heavy always tries to get involved with charitable endeavors, and this year is no different. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Stars and Stripes Museum in Bloomfield, Malaina's Magical Playland, and will also go toward planting trees along the Castor River.

* Camping and outdoor gear: If you plan to take full advantage of the festival and the campgrounds, don't forget camping equipment. Bloom Heavy has even posted a list of camping necessities on its website. And because the festival is on the Castor River, you might want to bring swim apparel and sunscreen. There are two shower houses on site with bathrooms, and portable toilets will be brought in. For more information about Arrowhead Campgrounds, go to

* Water: Bring your own bottled water, or a bottle to refill at the shower houses. Avoiding dehydration is key to having a great weekend at the fest.

* The kids: Barney insists this is a family-friendly festival with a safe environment for everyone. Arrowhead also has playgrounds, and there will be entertainment for children.

* Glow-sticks and hula-hoops: You never know when the urge to hoop will hit you. And if you have hoops that glow or light up, even better.

* Lots of energy: River Romp will have music all day and night, so be prepared to literally dance the night (and day) away. Don't forget to spend time safely exploring the nature that surrounds you, too.

* Positive and friendly attitude: Festival master of ceremonies Matthew Caldwell said the mood of the event is created by the mood of those in attendance.

"The people who come are what creates this great vibe that rubs off on everyone, from the bands to the crowd," said Caldwell. "The result is an awesome experience."

Also remember the rules; no glass of any kind, dogs are allowed but organizers prefer Rompers to leave animals at home and absolutely no disorderly conduct.

* Parking: The parking is free. Campsite parking is allowed until the wooded camping area gets crowded. Patrons are provided with a shuttle service to help them with loading gear into the camping areas if need be. Festi-Cab will also provide golf cart rides around the festival grounds.

Bloom Heavy River Romp's schedule

Thursday, June 28

* Main Stage

5 to 6:30 p.m.: Clusterpluck

7 to 9 p.m.: Elemental Shakedown

9 to 11 p.m.: The Hillbenders

10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.: Head for the Hills

1 to 2:15 a.m.: The Big Idea

Friday, June 29

* Arrowhead Stage

11 a.m. to noon: Flatland Harmony Experiment

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: Honky Suckle

2 to 3 p.m.: New Old Calvary

3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: The Whistle Pigs

4:45 to 5:30 p.m.: Chicago Farmer

6 to 7:30 p.m.: Elemental Shakedown

* Main Stage

2:30 to 4:15 p.m.: Oakhurst

4:45 to 6 p.m.: The Travelin' McCourys

6:30 to 8 p.m.: Hot Buttered Rum

8:30 to 10 p.m.: The Del McCoury Band

10:30 to midnight: Yonder Mountain String Band

12:30 to 1:30 a.m.: The Bluegrass Ball (Del McCoury, Jeff Austin, Allie Kral and Bryan Horne)

2 a.m.: Cornmeal

Saturday, June 30

* Arrowhead Stage

11 a.m. to noon: Deep Fried Squirrel

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: The Big Idea

2 to 3 p.m.: Mockingbird Hillybilly Band

3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Dirtdaubers

4:45 to 5:30 p.m.: T-Chicken

6 to 7:30 p.m.: The Ben Miller Band

* Main Stage

1 to 2:30 p.m.: The Whistle Pigs

3 to 4:30 p.m.: The New Old Calvary

5 to 6:30 p.m.: Hot Buttered Rum

7 to 8:30 p.m.: Dirtfoot

9 to 10:30 p.m.: Split Lip Rayfield

11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.: Yonder Mountain String Band

2 a.m.: Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy


Pertinent address:

HC 64 Box 700, Grassy, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: