Since 2002, the 10,000-person town of Manchester, Tennessee, has blazed the independent festival trail. Bringing tens of thousands of Bonnaroovians from all over the world, Bonnaroo provides an oasis for all who come.
Everyone has a different reason for visiting the Farm. For some, it’s a spiritual thing. They’re looking to connect with others and grow something inside of themselves. For others, The Farm is an escape: it offers a shield from the world, where you can pay your neighbors in high-fives and tell strangers that you love them.
Bonnaroo is an unrivaled experience: from the unbearable heat and the occasional whiff of nearby porta-potties to the climaxes of sets and smiling at everyone because you can’t help it. The positives outweigh the negatives. The sunburns and cramping feet hold nothing to the music and dancing all around you.
If you’re anything like me, you avoid public interaction with strangers. In any situation, I usually turn to my phone so that others won’t bother me, and I won’t bother them. It’s not like this at the Roo. (That’s what the cool kids call it).
One hour in, and I’m among all-new friends who want to hold a conversation and not just small talk. People want to know you, and I found myself wanting to know them. Is that important? Yes, yes it is. It is important to be able to talk to strangers. I found connections with everyone for some reason or another.
The older I get, the more important it is to make the most out of this time. Isn’t that what Bonnaroo has always been about?
I learned Australian ball games, new card tricks and even a few lessons about camping in general from those around me in the camping site. It was hard to walk in knowing what to expect, and I would have never expected this.
This may have been my first year at Bonnaroo, but I felt at home. I could hardly tell experienced Bonnaroovians from the new comers because everyone was one in the same.
Each attendee had a security-sensor wristband that granted them access into the grounds. As media, I got into a special media trailer, where I was yards away from artists’ trailers. I ohhhed-ahhhed all through my first day of Bonnaroo. Everything was so instagrammable.
With acts from Deadmau5 to Billy Joel, no one’s taste was overlooked. A comedy tent provided comic relief and distraction from the fact that no one had showered in days. Food of all origins was available. Amish donuts, a personal favorite, barbecue from all over the nation, and even vegan options were in attendance.
I’d like to give special attention to the Amish Baking Company for its donuts. Hailing from Florida, the company always had a line at its booth. Customers had two options; donut or pretzel. If I could have, I would have survived completely on their donuts my four days there. Unfortunately, glaze and dough are only two food groups.
Bonnaroo seemed to have everything. The shopping was endless, food was forever and music was always playing. There was even a hair salon. Worried about missing your favorite shows or the big games? No worries, “Game of Thrones” was playing, sporting events were broadcast, and there were even movie quote-along parties.
Every festival I had been to before was an EDM festival full of jumping and dropping, but this was entirely different. Bonnaroo was environmentally friendly (which I loved) and offered free clean water to all goers.
Will I go back? Absolutely. This time, I will be a bit more prepared, but I will return. I will return for the high-fives, the cuisine and the music. Actually, there’s nothing I wouldn’t return for.
The community was amazing. Everyone may have been there for different reasons, but they were all there for the same result. ThisWoodstock-inspired event may not be for everyone, but everyone is invited.