How Roots 'N Blues defined Harold's

We’ve loved sharing our history and our mission with you over the last couple of weeks, but now we pause to acknowledge the here-and-now. This weekend is big. This weekend is exciting. This weekend, in all of its smokey, blues-y glory, is the annual Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ Festival right here in Columbia.

First launched in 2007, the festival is a weekend extravaganza of music and food, fun and camaraderie. This will be our fifth year bringing doughnuts to the hungry crowds, and we could’t be more excited to help fill Stephen’s Lake Park with the sweet scents of doughnuts and BBQ. Of course we’re excited for the music and hubbub, but our relationship with Roots ‘N Blues holds a special place in our hearts for another reason: This festival is the birthplace of our Doughnut Bar concept.

In 2014, before we had our own shop or kitchen on 9th Street, we committed to attending the event. We were determined to introduce ourselves to as many Mid-Missourians as possible before our doors opened later that year. In spite of limited resources at our humble festival stand, we served thousands of bismarck doughnuts. Simple, easy, classic. We laid a handful of glazes, filings and toppings alongside the mountain of fresh bismarcks and allowed festival patrons to get crackin’ on dreaming up their own doughnut creations.

With freedom to mix and match our delicious, unique toppings and fillings, it was no wonder that festival attendees adored the Doughnut Bar concept. After receiving positive feedback, we set out to integrate this new concept into our store and build special events around Doughnut Bars. Thanks to their fun nature and individualized approach, Doughnut Bars have stuck - we just had a Doughnut Bar last weekend at our downtown shop!

And we continue to push the creative envelope, so to speak. Over the last few years at Roots ‘N Blues we’ve changed things up with a special-edition BBQ pulled pork doughnut sandwich - sweet, smoky, sticky goodness! What more could you want?

If your answer to the question above is “dessert,” we’ve got you covered. We also offer a special “King Richard” doughnut named after Richard King, the founder of the festival and former owner of The Blue Note music venue in downtown Columbia. This doughnut delicacy is made from a classic glazed doughnut topped with house-made apple chutney and finished with chocolate ganache and caramel. Now what more could you ask for?!

As much as we love being part of the excitement at Roots ‘N Blues, we love serving our customers even more. Events like this one allow us to play with classics and use our creativity to invent new products and concepts. Also, we’ll never turn down an opportunity to see familiar doughnut-lovers and bring smiles to new faces, alike.

Just as Harold’s started with humble beginnings, it’s interesting to reflect on the challenges we faced at our first Roots ‘N Blues festival 5 years ago. We lacked human resources and kitchen resources, but we managed to come up with a plan that became a deeply ingrained part of our doughnut culture. Doughnut Bars might seem like just a simple way to serve large numbers of people in a fast way, but to us they truly encompass everything we hold dear: creativity, excitement, individuality, and practicality.

We can’t wait to see everyone at Roots ‘N Blues this weekend, but wait! There’s more! We are putting on our very first and very own (and very free!) festival next weekend in Rocheport, Missouri. The Rocheport Doughnut Festival will have amazing music, yummy food, and tons of fun events for everyone in the family (did someone say silent disco?).

The feelings we have about launching our very own festival mirror those that we felt back in 2014, starting at a tiny booth and trying to serve hordes of hungry Roots ‘N Blues-goers. Excited beyond belief, terrified, ready. We hope that our new festival, just like the concept of Doughnut Bar born all those years ago, will bring new adventures and fresh challenges. Doughnut on, y’all!