In only its second year, Bloom Festival has grown to a 40-artist lineup with Big Freedia headlining

Jarvis Antwine was inspired to start Bloom Festival after sneaking into New Orleans Jazz Festival when he was 19. After years of selling water, parking cars and working other odd jobs during the festival, Antwine wanted to offer a new festival to his hometown of Baton Rouge.

In March 2017, he held the first Bloom Music and Arts Festival at the Riverfront Plaza. The festival was free for attendees and showcased artists like Dave Stokes, Captain Green and Barin the Great.

“Last year was just a trial run,” Antwine says.

As the festival enters its second year, the 22-year-old plans to offer a unique festival experience for a wider audience. This year, guests can purchase food and drinks from vendors like Raising Canes and Coca-Cola. There will be a virtual art gallery along with live performances by local painters.

In addition to more offerings, this year’s Bloom lineup consists of 40 local artists. Headliners include Big Freedia, Made Groceries, The Smooth Cat & The 9th Life and Alabaster Stag.

“With Bloom, I’m able to show that Baton Rouge has the ability to come together,” Antwine says. “I want it to be seen as a neutral ground. This is a place where you can feel comfortable being around everyone.”

Bloom Music and Arts Festival will be held on October 6 at the Riverfront Plaza. Gates open at 11 a.m. and music starts at 12 p.m. General admission tickets are $15.

‘225’ sat down with Antwine to talk about the festival’s rapid growth and future plans:

What’s does “Bloom” mean in Bloom Music and Arts Festival?
Bloom was the idea because it’s what we are trying to achieve. We are trying to bloom culture, businesses, arts and music. We’re trying to bring our city to a more progressive state with Bloom. That was the main objective of this whole thing, outside of just having music and art it was to say, ‘How can we help the city bloom from a ethical and economical standpoint?’

What can the city expect from Bloom this year?
I think it’s going to bring something to Baton Rouge that we really don’t see a lot here. It’s something that I believe is going to turn a lot of heads and is going to make people say ‘Alright, we need to start moving [the city] forward.’ Last year’s Bloom was like a picnic. This year, there’s a different feel. I see more people and greater interaction among everyone. From our art market to our food trucks, it’s an experience.

How is Bloom unique from other festivals?
We’re blooming with everyone. When you think of other festivals, sometimes you look at who it’s appealing to, and it’s not always for everyone. At this festival, there’s not a genre missing (except for country).There’s not a demographic that is not being marketed toward. Everyone is invited to come and enjoy this festival. That’s one of the biggest things about this festival 一the inclusion of everyone.

How do you choose which artists to showcase?
We want to shed light on the movers and shakers. A big part of how we choose our lineup is what artists have been working the hardest, who’s been touring and who’s been putting out the most consistent music.

Why did you choose to host Bloom in Baton Rouge?
I’m from Baton Rouge, I grew up here. I think the experience that I try to create for Bloom Festival is the experience that I haven’t had here myself.