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Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2019 (Manchester, TN)

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

Anyone that was born in the South, or has been here for quite some time, knows about Bonnaroo. For those that have been living under a rock since 2002, Bonnaroo is a 4-day music festival that takes place every year in June in Manchester, Tennessee. Featuring artists from The Red-Hot Chili Peppers to Childish Gambino, Bonnaroo has really put Coffee County on the map- bringing thousands of people from all over the world to another realm that is known as “The Farm.” Tennessee summers can get HOT, so I will forewarn all that are contemplating ongoing at some point; PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STAY HYDRATED.


Prior to attending Bonnaroo for the first time in 2019, I had mixed feelings about the festival. For one, I knew my allergies sucked, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about being outside in the sweltering Tennessee heat for that long. It wasn’t until after talking to my father, who had always wanted to go and later meeting my best friend Kait, that I decided Bonnaroo was something I wanted to experience one day. I figured it would be a good way to baby-step myself into music festivals without having to travel super far; if I decided the heat was too much, I would just go back to Murfreesboro. When my father suddenly passed away in 2018, something in my mind clicked. Life is too short. I needed to get to ‘Roo. No. I HAD to get to Bonnaroo. Eight months later, I’ve got my car packed with all the camping gear my father left, plus a few items from my uncle (Thanks, Josh) and my positive attitude. The first rule of Bonnaroo is to spread positivity. A positive attitude will make or break your Bonnaroo experience. Important note: When traveling to Bonnaroo, there is a higher police presence. Do not be that idiot that is driving crazy or has crazy stuff written on your car. They will ticket you for anything given a chance. If you do not live close to Manchester, I doubt you will want to take off from work to come back for court. Just saying, friends, be safe.




Instead of leaving on Wednesday when the campsite opens, my friends and I decided to leave on Thursday because we adult on a regular basis & had work. Looking back, I am grateful that we did not leave Wednesday since the wait time in line had been reported to be 12+ hours. We left around 9 am from Murfreesboro & got to the campsite a little afternoon. That’s still a long time to be waiting in line without a bathroom. Thankfully, the weather was in our favor, giving us a dip in temperatures and a slight respite from the heat. This year’s June weather was mild compared to other Tennessee summers. The heat for me was tolerable & I took my allergy medicine faithfully, so the worries I had prior to coming seemed nonexistent. I ended up getting a little cold at night, so make sure to bring extra blankets. Tennessee weather is bipolar year-round; it’s always good to double-check the forecast before coming.



After getting your camp set up, I suggest you pull out your venue map and study it. It’s best to make your way to Centeroo (where the main stages are) while it is still light outside. You should also plan what artists you would like to see if you haven’t already, so you know where you are going for the next four days. There is nothing worse than not knowing where you are supposed to be going & where your camp pod/plaza is. Get your bearings. Use things like someone’s campsite flag or tapestries to help as “landmarks”. You will be grateful for it later, even if you decide to go with the flow. Also, invest in some walkie-talkies AND extra batteries if you are with friends. Phone service out there will be pretty much nonexistent except *MAYBE* during the times where people are asleep from dancing themselves into a coma from the night before. While you are in Centeroo for the first time, take note of where bathrooms are, what food spots catch your eye, where the stages are, and a designated meeting spot for your Roo Crew if anyone gets split up. One of the biggest deal-breakers for if you enjoy your stay on the Farm or not will be your shoes. Do not, I repeat, do not wear flip-flops. The Farm is quite literally what it says. You are camping and partying in a giant cow pasture that spans a few hundred acres. You WILL be doing a lot of walking if your weekend passes are general admission like mine was.




Another worry I originally had was spending so much money on a festival where I did not know a lot of the lineup. When I finally had to say goodbye to The Farm, I realized that despite my concern, I could not wait to cruise down I-24 with fresh new music playing in the car. I felt like my money was well spent for the music, the experience, and the overall amount of fun I had.

For those that have not attended, Bonnaroo isn’t just a music festival. Bonnaroo is filled will all kinds of people. If a combination of crazy, cool, friendly, and weird folks is not your cup of tea, then this music festival just isn’t for you- and that’s okay. Just don’t bring your bad vibes and negative attitude because this is the wrong place for it. Yes, there is music everywhere you go, but it’s about the experience you have while you are there. Being in the heat can bring out the worst in people, but here it brings out the best. I don’t know how many times I saw someone stop to check on someone they didn’t even know because they looked like they needed some help or just a friend to talk to. I lost count of how many times I complimented someone’s outfit or how many times someone said something of the same notion to me or how many times Kait had to just give me a hug because I was so overwhelmed with excitement, yet grief, that my father never got to experience such a giant bubble of positivity. I felt nothing but good vibes; if you put good ‘Roo vibes out there, you get them back. It’s all in what you make of the experience. Shout out to Kait, Michael, & those I met in passing for making my first Bonnaroo experience the best. I am looking forward to many more years of Bonnaroo.



 


Other miscellaneous items you should pack:

· For me, a camelback and a fanny pack were a must have. Water on my back and my important items like Chapstick, phone, money, etc. close on my person to avoid theft & having to dig through my backpack for a small item. Did I also mention to stay hydrated? 😉

· Your Bonnaroo Buddy. Things can get a little *weird* on the Farm, so make sure you have a friend to help look out for you. If you don’t have a Bonnaroo Buddy, don’t hesitate to ask anyone walking by for help. THIS is the place you will get that help, without question.

· Meet up spot for your RooCrew. If you are with a Bonnaroo Buddy or you have an entire flock with you (aka your RooCrew) set a meeting spot in case you have to split up in CenterRoo. For me, the best spot is the Ferris wheel. It is colossal and hard to miss.

· Lots of sunblock and aloe. There is not a lot of shade on The Farm SO unless you want to be as red as a bag of hot Cheetos, lather up on the sunblock.

· Water. Even though water is provided in Centeroo, I still took my own water to keep myself from having to bust that long walk.

· Portable shower. Not a must have but you will be grateful for it in the Tennessee heat. Plus, you won’t have to wait in line or spend your money on the showers that Bonnaroo supplies. (I think this year was $10 per shower)

· Portable fan, lights and extra batteries. Much like the portable shower, these are not a must have for everyone, but they were items that I was deeply grateful I had.


For my ‘Roo veterans: What is something that you didn’t take the years prior, that you will take next year? Or something that you suggest everyone take as a must have to get through the 4 days on the Farm?

For the ‘Roo virgins: What are some worries you have about attending Bonnaroo? If there are no worries, what is stopping you?



 



See y’all next year at the Farm *yells* BONNAROO!! ,


Anastasia



Special thanks to Facebook groups Bonnaroo Loophole to Reality & Chunky N' Funky Chica's PLUS SIZE Rave & Festival Community for not only sharing your pictures, but your positivity and love.

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