The Bonnaroo Experience: Radiate Positivity

The Yearly Changing Bonnaroo Arch (The Entrance Gateway)
The Yearly Changing Bonnaroo Arch (The Entrance Gateway)

What is Bonnaroo?

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a 4 day camping festival in Manchester, TN. As of 2014, the festival has been going on for 13 years. Bonnaroo, in my own words is "Disney for Adults". With 700 acres of Farm Land, 80,000+ campers, over 150 Performers all equal what will be the best week of your life! In this hub I will cover the following:

  1. Arriving to Bonnaroo
  2. Volunteering Program
  3. "Bonnaroovian" Atmosphere
  4. My 2014 Experience

Bonnaroo 2014 Lineup

Initial Bonnaroo 2014 Lineup
Initial Bonnaroo 2014 Lineup

Arriving to Bonnaroo

I make the trek from South Florida almost every year with a group of amazingly close friends, a group which has grown considerably over the past four years. The trip there is beautiful and scenic, changing from flatland in Florida, to Mountainous in Northern Florida and into Georgia and finally Tennessee, where the festival is held every year. Making the trip with friends or a group of any kind is the right way to go to save on gas money and also make a great time out of the road trip experience. You notice the area around you get more and more desolate as you get closer to Manchester. It is a quaint little town that thrives on the Festival and the revenue it brings in every year.

Side Note: I want everyone to know that I am from West Palm Beach, so I maybe a little spoiled with all the things I have to entertain myself with on a daily basis: The Beach, Movie Theatres, Bars, Clubs and so on...

When we finally arrive to our first destination, we arrive at the Coffee County Central High School (at least, that has been the check in spot for the last 5 years). All volunteers receive wristbands (Pictured Above), Volunteer T-Shirts and Parking Passes as well as their schedules for the Festival. Most "Bonnaroovians" make a quick trip to the local Wal-Mart before heading into the Festival Gates to get last minute items such as food, beer, and any other amenities they may need as once you're in the festival, you're in for the rest of your stay.

Another Side Note: Volunteering and Regular Patrons have a totally different experience, including what it's like arriving to the farm, being there and the perks you get and many other things. So with that said...

A markerBonnaroo Music and Arts Festival -
Manchester, TN, USA
[get directions]

Sign Before Toll Booth Entrance
Sign Before Toll Booth Entrance

Volunteering Program

There are all different types of volunteer programs. For information on all the different programs you can join go to the C'roo Descriptions Bonnaroo Page. I will tell you my story, which this past year was being part of the toll booth C'roo.

It may sound like volunteering is no fun, especially if you want to just go and enjoy yourself, but let me tell you why being a volunteer is the way to go!

  • Volunteers get less congested camping areas
  • More navigable camping spots
  • Free showers and sinks
  • Cut the entry line when on your way to a shift
  • Volunteer BBQ before the Fest starts
  • Cooler, more comfortable wristbands and C'roo T-Shirts
  • and BEST OF ALL, you basically go for FREE!

I'll explain that last one. When you apply to volunteer at Bonnaroo you have to put a deposit down, that is the price of a festival ticket. Bonnaroo does this to ensure they are not cheated out of money if you do not show up to your shifts. Once your shifts are completed, you are free to do whatever you want at the festival and will receive a FULL REFUND of your money approximately 2-3 weeks after Bonnaroo ends.

My program this year was the Toll Booth C'roo. This is the entryway into the Festival, where cars are lined up for miles and miles to get into "Adult Disney". There's no Mickey Mouse waiting for you here, but instead there are 80,000 people of all kinds, shapes, sizes, ethnicities, religions, beliefs and cultures waiting to experience the Roo with you!

At toll booth is where the Festival Ticket Holders enter the farm and receive their festival guides and are scanned in through the chip that is in their wristband. Yes Folks, there are chips in the wristbands. We are in the future. This is also the point where security checks your cars and belongings for anything that is prohibited on the farm.

From my experience at toll booth, it seemed to depend on how backed up the line is but...

  • YES, they do check for illegal substances(Drugs and Liquor are not allowed) and YES they will take it and then use it for themselves later, because you didn't hide for you. (Not promoting Illegal use of anything, just don't be dumb)
  • YES, they do check for weapons and knives and other objects that can cause harm
  • YES, they do check for glass and fireworks and other flammable items.

Bottom Line, don't mess with Bonnaroo Security. They have probably been up for 36 hours or more straight, looking through your smelly cars.

My main shift this year was 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the opening day of the festival. I had talked to plenty of people who were in line for well over 24 hours. When approaching the exit for Bonnaroo off the highway there are signs that tell festival Attendees that the line to get in is on the shoulder of the highway to prevent congestion for other vehicles not attending the festival. While it was pretty insane to work starting late at night until halfway through the day, it totally added to the experience and I wouldn't have changed it for the world. I got to work with all my friends, as we were all assigned the same shifts and we met a lot of cool people. We were also fed pizza at about 6 o' clock in the morning, which was a first for me. I loved getting to know all the people coming in. They were all extremely excited to get into the farm and set up camp, and believe it or not after 24 hours in line, they were all ready to get into the mix of the festival!

Fun Fact #1

Since 2010, after Bonnaroo bought the Land that the Festival is held on, the "What Stage" (Bonnaroo's Main Stage), became a Permanent fixture on the land and is not touched throughout the 11 months it is not used.

**Main Stage Pictured Below

What Stage (Main Stage)
What Stage (Main Stage)
My Friend, Brother and I at Main Stage
My Friend, Brother and I at Main Stage

"Bonnaroovian" Atmosphere

There is an aura of unparalleled excitement, happiness and kindness. While camping if you are in need of something your neighbor is there to willingly help you out. It is the "Bonnaroovian" Spirit that keeps most people, including myself, coming back for more. Bonnaroo's biggest slogan is "Radiate Positivity" and it is not something that they just say, but it is more of a creed. You are either there together or not at all. Everyone is there to see and hear great live music, watch comedians, enjoy nature, great food and the company of great people. You easily stand out if you aren't in the sort of spirit that unites so many people on the farm.

It all starts when you approach the entrance toll booth. A buzz is in the air, people are already giving high fives (a Bonnaroo Tradition), and everyone is ready to be transported to another world. The rules in the real world hardly apply at Bonnaroo and those rules are simple:

  • Be kind to one another
  • Help each other out
  • Be safe and most importantly...

Once the festival starts is when you really figure out just how many people made the trek to Manchester for this over the top festival that you will (depending on how much you consume), never forget or never remember! There are all different types of groups.

There are:

  • Groups of friends
  • BIG Groups of friends
  • Families
  • Couples (young and young at heart)

All wanting to experience Bonnaroo as one solid, positive, happy unit!

Fun Fact #2

The Word "Bonnaroo" comes from a New Orleans Ninth Ward slang term from the French "bon" meaning "good," and "rue" from the French "street," translating to "the best on the streets."

2014 Bonnaroo Arch at Sunset on the Last Night
2014 Bonnaroo Arch at Sunset on the Last Night

My 2014 Experience

I have already described the volunteer aspect and what it is like getting there and working at toll booth, but that was just the beginning. We were originally assigned to two shifts and when we arrived for our second shift, they immediately told us they had too many volunteers and we were all released from shift duties, thus completing our volunteer hours for the entire festival! What an amazing feeling it was to be able to only have to work 12 hours and then experience Bonnaroo, totally free! We proceeded to "Centeroo", which is the main festival area, consisting of the stages, vendors and other attractions.

Throughout the next four days, I got to experience some of the greatest performances I've ever seen including:

  • Elton John (Yes, Elton *bleeping* John)
  • Kanye West (who was awful)
  • Skrillex
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Wiz Khalifa
  • Zedd
  • Disclosure
  • Sam Smith
  • Capital Cities
  • A$AP Ferg
  • Phoenix
  • Janelle Monae
  • Bobby Womack
  • Tedeschi Truck Band and more!

Got to eat some awesome donuts from Dave's Mini Donut's and great food from other food trucks, got to meet many awesome people and chill with my best friends! I definitely recommend Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. If you have questions feel free to ask in the comments!

Fun(ny) Fact #3

Bonnaroo ticket prices are slowly increasing each year. By 2020 ticket prices are estimated to be $700, a college diploma and a mandatory organ donation.

Joke Courtesy of:

What Seems the Most Appealing at Bonnaroo

  • Volunteer Benefits (Money Back, Free Things)
  • Experiencing the Music
  • Camping Aspect
  • Getting Away from the "Real World"
  • This sounds like a terrible time
  • Everything Combined. Let's ROO BABY!
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Comments 2 comments

Roni 23 months ago

Great article! I've been to Bonnaroo for the last 5 years! It's the best vacation, in my opinion!!

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AtlasSue 23 months ago Author

Thanks Roni! It's a great place to getaway, hear great music and meet awesome people! Let us know if you want any info at all! Here to Help.

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