Cali Roots music festival en route for eighth annual event

The Monterey Fairgrounds is preparing for big crowds in a weekend full of reggae during the California Roots festival, a reggae music and arts festival scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28.

The festival started with crowds of 1,400 people at their first show, and since then the amounts have doubled in size every year since 2013, according to the official California Roots website.

“I’ve gone for the past three or four years,” Carmel High junior Kylie Lawrence says. “The lineup is going to be good this year. I’m excited for Rebelution.”

Cali Roots has released its official set list for the 2017 weekend festival, including both returning and newly featured artists. Grammy-nominated band Rebelution is scheduled to headline Friday. The second day brings rapper Nas to the festival. For the last day, returning band Dirty Heads is scheduled to perform.

The entire set list is on the official California Roots website.

“I’m most excited for Rebelution, Dirty Heads and Common Kings,” Carmel High junior Lauren Hadley says. “I’m very into Reggae. My dad introduced me to it.”

Although the music is the initial draw into the festival, some students admit the atmosphere is what really makes the weekend worthwhile, as California Roots co-producer Dan Sheehan points out.

“It’s a gathering of good energy and a getaway for people,” Sheehan says. “One of our taglines is ‘It’s a movement,’ and it really is a way for like-minded people to come together to celebrate each other for a weekend.”

Ticket prices are dependent on a few conditions: general admission, VIP status, the number of days attending and distance from the festival can alter the cost. A single-day pass is about $85, with a $14 fee. However, for three-day general admission access to the festival, prices go up to approximately $200 with an additional $31.59 fee. The last option is called a Redwood Pass, which grants the buyer access to all three days as well as perks such as access to VIP lounges and free merchandise, according to, a ticket distributor for Cali Roots.

Other than just focusing on the weekend of the festival, Cali Roots also works with and is sponsored by nonprofits, as shown on their official website.

“This year we have our Redwood Pass, which is what we have called our VIP in the past. For every ticket holder, we have two redwood trees planted in Point Arena,” says Sheehan, regarding working with nonprofit organization the Redwood Forest Foundation Incorporated.

According to RFFI’s official site, the first of five tiers of 400 Redwood passes sold out in just five minutes.

The festival also works in conjunction with the organization the Last Plastic Straw to eliminate the amount of disposable plastic.

“We’re working to get rid of all the plastic straws, which is obviously a big feat for us,” Sheehan adds.

Cali Roots has set a goal towards a ‘zero-waste’ experience. Vendors only sell food in compostable containers and volunteers are on site to help attendees separate their waste. The festival also heavily encourages everyone to bring reusable water bottles, since disposable ones are not sold at the fairgrounds, according to Sheehan.

California Roots is scheduled for its eighth annual festival at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. For more information, go to

-Ellah Foster