Great Bonnaroo video

Leanne sent me this video. I can't think of a better way to condense the whole Bonnaroo experience into 10 minutes. Very much worth the watch.
This is how we Roo it
Please send me links to any other worthy 'roo videos!


A diatribe against over preparing for Bonnaroo

About a year ago I went off on a rant on the Inforoo msg boards advising people not to get too worked up over preparing for Bonnaroo. Here's the executive summary, basically:
1.Treat with respect everyone you meet at 'roo whether they seem to deserve it or not.
2.Wear sunscreen.
3.Drink a lot of water.
4.Have an unbelievably great time.
everything else is minutia. Probably more valuable than my complaining are the excellent replies it generated. If you have a minute or two I'd recommend checking it out.

Some of the best food in Centeroo

Bearly Edible has had a booth in Centeroo for at least the past 6 years and their food is awesome. I've gotten at least one pesto mozzadilla every year I've gone. (Not a paid plug or anything, just think the food is great)


Pictures of festivals past

Tent city at the 2000 Vermont Reggae Festival


Day parking vs. camping

Tammy asks:
My husband and I are in our late 40s, fairly laid back, tolerant, nondrinkers, and nonsmokers who are considering attending Bonnaroo. We live very close by.. 10 miles away and have a large camper. We are considering two options: take our camper or get a day pass and sleep at home. What are the details of the day pass and parking and how does it work? Do we end up waiting hours to get into Roo if we have day passes? Do we end up parking in BFE and spending lots of time walking stead of listening? Is it easy to exit in the pm? We are considering hauling our camper but we are concerned about getting stuck if it rains heavily (as it seems prone to do). Not to mention the 150 camping fee when we are practically at our home. Also, we have 2 little guys at home so we would hire a sitter. Any chance that we could predict times getting in and out Bonnaroo if we drive?
We think the VIP tickets are a tad pricey but are concerned that we will be unhappy with the "crush" of people and long hikes/waits to events. Should we VIP instead of buy regular tickets?
Day parking hasn't been the most convenient in years past, on this map regular day parking is not really close to Centeroo, upper right hand corner (no guarantee that's how it'll be this year, they've been pretty consistent lately though). So that's a negative (unless you have a handicap tag, accessible day parking is MUCH closer). If you go into Centeroo in the morning and stay until late you won't have a lot of walking, but forget popping off to your camp for a short breather.

Getting into Bonnaroo on Thursday will be a pain, the line on the interstate is long; Fri, Sat and Sun may be better, you will probably still wait. Getting out will probably not be that bad until Sunday night when it turns into a clusterfark.

If you have a camper, I'd bring it and pay the $150. Staying at Bonnaroo is part of the whole experience, shows can run until 3 am, it's nice to be able to just crawl to your camp and crash afterward. I've seen very few campers get stuck, I'd not really worry about that. As far as getting a sitter for the little ones, that all depends on how comfortable you are leaving them with a sitter and the cost involved. I have 2 little guys as well (5 & 4) and I wouldn't bring them to Bonnaroo (I realize many people bring their kids to 'roo, I'm not saying you shouldn't, I just wouldn't, maybe a topic for a future post).

Finally, VIP. I would not particularly recommend it unless you really hate crowds and lines. There are some advantages to VIP.
  1. You get to camp close. This is nice, but not crucial. If you really want to be close, join us in Tent Only.
  2. You get a special (i.e. short) security line into Centeroo. Again, this is nice, but honestly, the line into Centeroo is rarely more than 15 min or so.
  3. You get special seats for the 2 main stages. Not a bad perk, but the seats aren't that close, but they're your's for the taking. There isn't a VIP section at the 3 smaller stages. There is never really a "wait" for shows unless you need to be front row. You just show up and enjoy.
  4. You get free amenities not available to others. VIP has free showers, but showers are available for ~$7 to the (literally) unwashed masses. VIP has free food, but from what I've heard, it is not anything amazing. There is very good food available in Centeroo and the Tent City.
Hope this helps.


PIctures of festivals past

Yours truly enjoying the fine weather at Woodstock '94

Car stuff

Most people get to Bonnaroo by car or truck, here are a few things to help keep transport as trouble free as possible.
  • gas up before you get to Manchester. There will be a line of cars on the side of the interstate starting miles before Bonnaroo and you'll be sitting in the line for hours. The last thing you want is to have to sprint to the gas station with a container because you ran out. Take a bathroom break while you're at it.
  • make sure your tags (license plates) are current, your brake and turn lights work, etc. There are dozens of state police on the interstate around Bonnaroo, don't start your weekend out with a ticket (or worse).
  • don't let your battery run down at 'roo. Using your cigarette lighter to recharge your cell phone once or twice should be OK, but don't go overboard (i.e. using your headlights as camp illumination). If you know that your battery is getting sketchy, think about replacing it before you go. Jumper cables aren't a bad idea either. If you do run out of juice, ask your neighbors for a jump before calling a tow truck. I've helped out a few people like that, it'll save you a bunch of dough.
  • if it rains a lot at Bonnaroo there will be plenty of mud. It isn't really a problem pulling out of your campsite because the grass will still be intact around your car. It could be a problem on the dirt (mud) roads within Bonnaroo. Try to keep forward momentum so you don't bog down.

Snacks in Centeroo

Nick asks;
I wanted to know what you knew about bringing small snacks into centeroo. I remember when I went in 2006, I didnt really see anyone with snacks inside unless they were VIP. But this past year, I saw alot of people with things like granola bars, cheese crackers, and trail mix. I was just wondering if they have gotten more relaxed on that, or if those people just got lucky. I think it would be nice to have something small to eat while I'm waiting for hours by a stage for a band to come out.
Good question, it does seem that more people are bringing snacks in.  According to the actual Bonnaroo wesite;
No food or drinks – other than factory sealed water bottles and small snacks
So it does seem like it's OK.  Now what they (or more importantly the security checkers) think constitutes "small" is a question.  As long as you don't go overboard, you should be fine.  If you do get hassled, just turn around and try a different line, you might get a more reasonable checker next time.  Just an aside, in general the security people at Bonnaroo (both the professional mounted guards and the regular people working the ground) are very courteous and reasonable.  Their job is to keep the peace, keep you safe, keep glass out of Centeroo and deal with the most egregious violations of the rules/laws.  That being said, there is always the possibility you'll run into a security person who is grumpy after working a long shift in the hot sun or just has something to prove, but that is definitely the exception rather than the rule.


Learn from Leo's Dumb Mistakes, Pt. 1

This is the first of a series of posts where I come clean and discuss the not so bright things from my own festival past, hopefully keeping at least one of you from doing it too.

If you are wearing sandals at Bonnaroo, especially if you haven't been wearing them much before 'roo, put sunscreen on your feet!  A couple of years ago I roll into Bonnaroo, slather SPF 30 over everything except my feet and start hauling my gear to Tent Only.  In a couple of hours I realize my mistake.  For a relatively small area of skin, the tops of your feet can really cause you some hurt.


How early can you get in?


Jade writes;
What time does the line start? Does it start at the same time that they open the gates on Thursday morning? What if you get there and it's about 30 minutes or so before they open, do they start the line then with the first car that pulls up? I know a lot of people go to the Wal-Mart close by and wait. How exactly does all that work?
Interesting question (keep in mind this is all based on how things have gone down in past years, YMMV).  So officially Bonnaroo opens up Thursday morning around 8 or 9 (Central time).  It actually opens before that.  People arriving late on Wednesday are let in (I don't know how early), but they are sent to camp in "BFE" which is one of the least desirable campsites (see the "Flying in and camping" post from a few days ago).  Sometime early Thursday morning they start parking people in the regular campsites.  I usually roll into Manchester around 8am Thursday morning and there is always already at least a 2-3 hour wait on the interstate to get in.  This past year was closer to 4 hours if I remember correctly.  My guess would be you'd be fine getting there anytime after 6am Thursday.  I know a lot of people hang out at the local Walmart the night before but I've never checked it out.  If anyone has, please feel free to leave a comment.

Update:  They start letting people in Wed evening to the normal campsites (at least they have the last 2 years).  Last year (2012) I had no wait at all on the interstate getting into Manchester around 8 am on Thurs.


Some quick tips

So this is my friend and I first trip to Bonaroo. We are going to drive in and camp but what advice can you give me? Should we camp by the car or what? What do i need...etc. let me know any advice you can give me.
OK, some general advice.  Try to get to Manchester (the town where Bonnaroo is located) early on Thursday.  Even at 9 am there will probably be a line of ~2-3 hours to get in, it usually gets longer as the day wears on.  Avoid getting in at night, it's pretty hard to set up your campsite by flashlight.

There is a security check of your vehicle when you drive in to 'roo.  Depending on the person conducting the search it may be more or less extensive.  They'll look in gloveboxes, consoles, door wells, coolers, backpacks, etc.  They will not usually tear your car apart without a good reason.  They are mostly looking for drugs and glass bottles.  Glass bottles will be taken, there are state troopers around to handle drugs.

Once you get in you'll be directed to a campsite to park in.  You'll not have any say about where you get parked (unless you are parking in the accessible parking camps).  You might get lucky and be parked a 2 minute walk from Centeroo (the main stages area), you might not and be 30 minutes away.  When you arrive does not seem to matter as to where you get parked.  The vast majority of people camp right in front/behind their vehicle.  There is the option to camp in Tent Only, see yesterday's post regarding that.

Some other things.  Bring some shade for your campsite!  Some people go all out and bring EZ-Up shade tents, but even just a tarp and a few poles will help.  It gets hot and sunny early in the morning at Bonnaroo, plan accordingly.  Bring sunscreen, probably an SPF higher than your think you need.  You don't need to bring a lot of food, there is plenty there, bring snacks.  Wear comfortable (and worn in) shoes/sandals, you'll do a lot of walking.  Bring a water bottle or CamelBak to take into Centeroo with you.

As we get closer to 'roo I'll go into more detail about preparing and enjoying yourself, but if you have any specific questions or advice, drop me an email or post a comment!


Flying in and camping

A reader asks:
This will be my 2nd year at Bonnaroo. went last year with my father, and this year I'm going with some friends. We are flying in and camping. Last year my father and I camped in camp 47. James Bond; which, is close to the airport shuttle pick up and drop off, but, far from centeroo. So, this is where I need advice to help out me and my friends. Should we hike into tent only and suck it up or stay with the convenient location to the shuttle? is there going to be room in tent only if we arrive at 1pm on Thursday? Is there a greater risk of theft there than if we were to camp in "bfe"? any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Here's a link to a map from a past Bonnaroo, the basic layout is still the same;
So the two options that the reader is considering is camping in "BFE", which is the group of campsites way down at the lower right corner of the map; or in Tent Only which are the campsites in green near Centeroo.  BFE is some of the furthest campsites from Centeroo.  Personally, I'd haul my stuff to Tent Only.  It is a pain to haul your gear, but you only have to do it twice.  If you stay in BFE you wind up doing a lot of walking just to get to Centeroo.  That's just my opinion though.

Tent only has filled up faster and faster every year.  You should still be able to find campsites Thurs afternoon, even later there is usually room to crowd in somewhere.  There has been some theft from the Tent only campsites in the past but not much.  Just don't leave small valuables (cash, phones, cameras, etc) at your campsite when you're not there and you should be fine.  I don't know enough about BFE to say if the theft problems are greater or less than Tent Only.

Thanks for the question, keep them coming!


Safety at Bonnaroo

I've had a number of people ask me about how safe is Bonnaroo. This is a valid concern and I thought I'd address it. In general Bonnaroo is very safe. There is a professional mounted security force active around the clock at the site. The vast majority of people there are friendly and harmless.

Women thinking about going to 'roo solo have emailed me with concerns about being alone. There are so many people there no one is really ever "alone", if anyone ever has a problem with someone, hundreds (if not thousands), of people are a shout away.

The only safety related issues I've heard of is petty theft from people's tents when they are not at their campsite. Even that is really pretty rare, just don't have anything of great value out in the open (keep valuables on your person or locked in your car) and you should be fine.

Finally, I've had parents contact me wondering if they should let their teenage children go to 'roo. Ultimately that comes down to how much you trust your child's judgment and personal responsibility, as alcohol and drugs are rather easy to obtain at Bonnaroo. No one will "push" drugs on anyone, but they are available to anyone who looks for them. You are the best judge as to the maturity of your child and whether or not this is at all a concern. I've seen very mature 16 year olds at Bonnaroo, I've also seen people in their 40's passed out drunk at 11 am, so age isn't always a good metric.

Bonnaroo is a lot of fun and quite safe. In general, I think there are less "bad" people at Bonnaroo than in the general population. If you are smart you should be fine, just like anywhere else.