A reader asks:
Hey thanks so much for creating the first timers guide! It's helped alot but I do have one question! I can't stay until monday I need to leave on Sunday. Can I do that and still camp? Is there seperate parking for people who won't be staying for the whole thing? Or do I camp by my car?
Thank you in advance!!
You can get out of Bonnaroo Sun night. A lot of people, maybe a 1/4
of everyone, leave Sunday night after the last show (midnightish).
It'll be hard (if not impossible) to get out much before that from the
regular campsites. If you decide to leave Sun night, pack up as much
of your stuff as possible Sun afternoon while it is still light out,
you'll thank yourself later. Talk to your neighbors beforehand and
let them know you'll be leaving so that you can have some room to get
out. It gets to be quite a clusterfark Sun night, be patient, it'll
be a while to get out. I've never left Sun night so I'm only speaking
from what I've seen. I'm pretty sure there isn't an area for people
who need to leave early (other than day parking where you can't camp),
you can always ask them at info@bonnaroo.com. As for camping by your
car, just about everyone does, excepting us weirdos in tent only.


Bringing children to Bonnaroo

Some people bring their children to Bonnaroo. I don't, but that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't. I'd like to give you my observations and opinions so that you can make an informed decision whether to bring your children or not and how to prepare if you do decide to.

Bonnaroo started offering family camping areas last year in 2007 and are going to have them again this year. The idea is that the campsites are; not too far from Centeroo, access controlled (i.e. not just anyone can wander in), quieter at night and have more family oriented facilities. I've not camped in them or spoken to those who have so I can't say if they meet their goals. From the Bonnaroo website;

For the 2nd year in a row, we will be providing a Family Camping Area on-site. While the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a place for people of all ages, we feel that providing a special area for parents and their small children will help provide a better festival experience for all. This area will be identified on the maps you will receive as you are processed through the tollbooths. Parking staff will direct you to the specified Family Camping Area once you arrive at the festival. The family camping areas will feature some amenities for young children. These amenities, in addition to specific information regarding restricted access to the area, will be announced closer to the event.
If you want more info, drop them a line at info@bonnaroo.com , they are usually pretty good about getting back to you, but they probably will get swamped as we get closer.

If you are considering bringing your child to Bonnaroo (especially if they are young), your utmost concern must be their safety and wellbeing. It usually is very hot and sunny during June in Tennessee. Plenty of healthy adults who aren't careful wind up in one of the medical tents due to heatstroke and/or dehydration; children are at even greater risk. Make sure:
  • your child stays hydrated. Kids aren't always cognizant of their own fluid balance; it is your responsibility to make sure they drink enough. Electrolytes are important too, I'd give 1 bottle of Pedialyte (if they are young) or Gatorade (for older children) for every 3-4 bottles of water as a lot of salt is lost through sweat. There are free water stations throughout Centeroo and the campsites, use them and bring bottles to fill.
  • your child stays protected from the sun. The sun gets very bright. Keep SPF 50+ on all exposed skin and reapply regularly. If your children are young, bring a wagon like this with a sunshade. If you're not prepared to pull the wagon around, don't bring the kids. Your children should have appropriate clothing and accessories. Bring light colored loose clothes, sunglasses (w/ UV protection) and wide brimmed hats.
  • you don't push your child too much. There is a lot of walking at Bonnaroo, be aware that your child can't walk as far or as fast as you can. Plan on staying at one stage more and not flitting from band to band. Don't drag your child around the place. Your child's wellbeing trumps your need to catch the last 15 minutes of the Weezer set.
  • you are willing to stay sane and sober. I am not going to pass judgment on someone's personal use of alcohol or drugs, but you must have your head on straight enough to look after your child.
People at Bonnaroo are usually respectful and courteous of families. However, you will come across people drinking, consuming drugs (mostly pot) and using profanity. You (and you child) may encounter people who have consumed excessive amounts of drugs and are not behaving well. These people are the exception rather than the norm, but in a crowd of ~80,000 you'll probably run into them.

The shows can get loud. I'd discourage bringing children close to the stages and also suggest hearing protection (for example). A very good idea is ID bracelets with names, any medical concerns and your cell phone number (available from many places). Have a place for your family to meet up if you get separated. Show your children where to go/who to talk to if they get lost. The security personnel inside Centeroo will have a certain colored t-shirt (I don't remember which, it's easy to find out when you're there) with "SECURITY" printed on the back. I'd also suggest to kids that they go to one of the vendors for help if they are lost. Outside of Centeroo there are professional horse mounted patrols that make regular rounds of the campsites. At the beginning of the weekend, point out to your children who to go to if they get lost and encourage them to do so. If you are breastfeeding, you should feel free to nurse anywhere, I doubt anyone will have much of a problem with it ('roo attracts an enlightened crowd, plus there are people running around naked anyways).

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please leave a comment, email me or post at the Inforoo forum (there is a special family message board) .

Annotated Bonnaroo schedule

Update: new version posted! Link has been updated.
I've put together a Bonnaroo schedule (pdf) that includes the overall genre of each band. The idea is to give people a hint of what each show might be like so that they can plan accordingly. Obviously I'm not familiar with every band, I used a lot of Google-fu to come up with the genres, so there will be inevitable errors, if there's anything major let me know. The schedule was partially crowdsourced from the Inforoo boards and is covered by the Creative Commons by-nc-sa license.


Special pic of Leo

I haven't posted many pics of myself but a few people asked, so here's me at the Vermont Reggae Fest 1999 (or maybe 2000).
In case you're wondering, that's pretty much exactly how still I look now (minus the cornrows).


Food cost

A reader asked:
I'm thinking about going to Bonnaroo this year, and I'm trying to get an estimate of how much it will cost total, but I can't seem to figure out how much food will be. What do you think the average cost of food is for the weekend for someone who eats one meal a day of their own (say, breakfast), and buys the other two?
Food can be expensive or not. In Centeroo there are a lot of vendors and prices vary. One of the cheaper options are arepas (sort of fried dumplings with different fillings) that are sold at a few stands. I think they were $2 each, 2 of them make a pretty good lunch. The quesadillas at "Bearly Edible" are $5 and great. There are Chinese and Greek platters available, ~$8 I think. There's a fried food place with fish, shrimp, scallops, gator meat, etc., that's a little expensive, maybe $9 for a plate w/ fries. Outside Centeroo there are plenty of official and unofficial food vendors. There's always a bunch of people selling grilled cheese sandwiches cheap.

As far as total cost, I'd say between $40-100 for the weekend for lunches and dinners. You can probably get by on less than $40; you'd probably have to try hard to spend more than $100. If you include alcohol in your calculations the totals will go up considerably.


Security at Bonnaroo

Wow, only one month to Bonnaroo! Time flies. Real Life (tm) has been cutting into my Bonnaroo blogging time lately, I'll try to get more posts up in the next few weeks.

Thanks for the questions and suggestions, please send more. Don't think that "my question is to dumb/obvious/embarrassing to ask". Everyone (me included) was a noob once. Also, I've had a few people ask if I'm employed by, a consultant for, or otherwise affiliated with Superfly/AC Entertainment (the folks who put on Bonnaroo). I'm not.

Security at Bonnaroo
This is not going to be a thesis on how to get drugs or other illicit substances into Bonnaroo, sorry. What I do want to do is to give an overview of what to expect.

Getting in
There will probably be a line of cars on the interstate and depending on when you arrive you might wait in line for 4+ hours. Be aware that there will be a lot of State Police around. They are mostly concerned with keeping the line moving and making sure people are safe but they are not blind. In Tennessee the driver is not permitted to have an open container of alcohol, here is an overview of the law. When you are waiting in line on the interstate you are still legally driving on a public road so the normal rules apply.

When you pull into Bonnaroo there will be a row of security "toll booths". The blog's title picture is the line for the toll booths. Your vehicle will be searched by Bonnaroo security. Most of the people working security are not "professionals" but younger people working 'roo to get a free ticket. For the most part they are looking for glass bottles, kegs, nitrous oxide tanks and large quantities of other drugs. Weapons are a no-no as well. A small pocket knife shouldn't be a problem, a hatchet might be. The security has always been polite to me, they'll look into your coolers, glove compartment, car consoles, under seats, etc. Unless they find something or you act "suspicious" or like an ass they probably won't tear your car apart. At least one year the State Police were randomly searching every 20th or 40th car, I'd imagine their searches would be more thorough. It should go without saying, but everyone in the vehicle needs to have a ticket. Don't wait until you get to Manchester to realize you left your tix on your desk. Be safe, put you tix in the glove compartment the night before (and still check in the morning).

Within Bonnaroo
In the campsites security is mostly focused on keeping the peace and keeping people safe. The most visible security is the horse mounted patrols. The same security outfit has been working 'roo for as long as I can remember, they really are quite professional. In my experience they have never been anything other than respectful and helpful, they understand that keeping the peace is more important mindlessly harassing people. They have walkie-talkies, so if you need help for whatever reason, flag one down and they can put a call in for you.

There is a security checkpoint to get into Centeroo (the main area where the stages are). This is the most extensive check you'll go through. They'll look though any bags you have and pat you down. They will take or turn you away for: open liquid containers that have something in them (empty bottles or sealed water bottles should be ok), beer or liquor, drugs, big folding chairs, weapons, bootleg teeshirts etc. The rules say no "professional" type cameras, I've not seen anyone have a problem with that. I still wouldn't recommend bringing this though.

Hope this helps, as always if you have any questions or suggestions email me rooguide[at]gmail[dot]com, don't forget to check out the Bonnaroo Survival Guide and the Inforoo forums.


Going light

So here's a guide for going light to Bonnaroo put together by Lucid Interval from the Inforoo board. This might be useful for people flying in or who just want to go minimal.


Well like i often times do i'll be hitting up a few summer festivals on foot this year. I thought i'd share with everyone my list of what im packing this year and some idea's i've come up with over time to save on weight and space. Even if you arent coming in on foot it always helps to save space in the car and to not overpack and have to mine through piles of stuff to get what you need.

Gear: This is my camping gear you dont need any real fancy backpacking equipment for festivals obviously, but i happen to have it and its super light and packable.

Pack (Gregory Z Pack)
Sleeping Bag (Montbell Superstretch)
Tent (One Man Eureka)
Bedroll (Thermarest 3/4)
Stove (MSR Simmerlite)
Cookware (Snow Peak Titanium)
RainGear (North Face Hyvent Shell)
CamelBack (Really Simple Basic Design)
Nalgene (We all have one of these)
Small Flashlight or Headlamp (Enter Portapotty with care)

Food: The main idea with food is to stick with just add water options as much as possible. You can bring dried milk for things that call for it and small containers of oil and seasoning as well. How much you pack is up to you, i tend to overpack food more often than not and theres always food around the festivals so this year im going with one meal a day(while in the festival) along with extra cash for food and plenty of energy snacks. Heres some stuff i usually grab when i pack.

WATER - I buy fresh to drink and wash with station water.
Litpon Dinners - 99c Each many are just add water.
Ramen - The most obvious choice.
Freeze Dried Meals - Check your local backpacking stores
Dried Soup - Some imported soup packs are delicious
Beef Jerky - Protein
Cliff Bars - Yummy energy bars made with organic soybean
Instant Rice - Rice a Roni Type Stuff
Candy - Chocolate is great for an energy boost
TrailMix - See below.

I really get into the trailmix thing when i go. I go to the local healthfood store and find the bulk section with all the dried nuts and fruits and granola(bring on the nut/fruit/granola jokes) and just start grabbing stuff. Dont overdo it, this stuff is heavy. But it digests slowly and will keep you full and will provide you energy for longer.

Clothing: I bring plenty of underwear and try to pack sparingly with everything else. Heres what im gunna bring.

Smartwool - These socks dry out even the soggiest feet when you get back to the campground.
Underwear - Bring ALOT of these.
Shirts - If your gunna buy shirts dont pack any.
Pants - One pair incase of chilly night
Shorts - A spare pair or two. (Find a laundrymat if ya can)
Tevas - Sandals with heel straps so they stay on.
Hat - If you're light sensitive, im not.
Warm Jacket - Lighter fleece is nice for warm weather.

Toiletries/First Aid: The one thing i have gotten more thanks for than anything else at festivals is my blister kit. You can put one together yourself(look up how on a backpacking/camping website) or you can buy a nice storebought one with scissors, bandages, ointment and all kinds of stuff including instructions on blister care for around $9. Check your local camping/outdoor stores. Blisters dont have to suck so bad.

Also remember when packing this stuff that liquids are heavy and you want SMALL containers of everything you bring.

Baby Wipes - Instant shower very refreshing
T.P - Small amount in ziplock
Hand Sanitizer - Your hands are the dirtiest thing on you
Gold Bond - I hate it when my nuts stick to my leg
Small Comb - Gotta be pretty for Centeroo
Dr Bronners - There is NOTHING you cant do with this soap
Deoderant - Some people object to this I think
Eyecare/Prescriptions - Gotta bring what ya need
Sunscreen - SUPER important for Bonnaroo
Blister Kit - See above
Toothbrush/Paste - Find small light versions
Tissue/Q-Tip - For whatever
Bug Dope - CHIGGERS!
FIRST AID - All the usuals. Bandages, tape, gauze, painkillers, ointment etc...


Lightsticks - Fun and... light.
Small Tarp - Always comes in handy
Charged Cellphone - Keep it off
Camera - Im bringing a few disposables
Journal/Pens - Paper for exchanging info or writing
Lighters - Various uses
Nylon Rope - Extra rope to go with the tarp
I-Pod/Electronics - Tunes on the go if thats how you roll.
Toys - Whatever else you want.

Its a pretty liberating feeling to hoist on your loaded pack and know that you could go anywhere and you've got your home with you. I look forward to stepping out of my door this June without a care in the world for two weeks to come, see you all out there...


Bonnaroo Footwear

A common question is what footwear is appropriate for Bonnaroo? You do a lot of walking at Bonnaroo so comfortable shoes/sandals are important. Personally, I generally wear Teva sandals, they have a good footbed, let your feet breathe and are sturdy. Another favorite with many 'rooers are Crocs, I've never had a pair but I've talked to a whole bunch of people who swear by them. Here are some things to thing about when deciding what to bring:
  • You will do a lot of walking going from your campsite to Centeroo and from stage to stage. First and foremost, wear something that will be comfortable for extended walking (and standing). I'd suggest not bringing brand new shoes or sandals to Bonnaroo, make sure that whatever you wear is sufficiently broken in.
  • It will probably be hot (Bonnaroo is in Tennessee in June). Try to go with something that is well ventilated. Sweaty feet aren't massive fun.
  • It may rain (a lot). Be prepared for this. If it rains, you will have to walk through mud, there is just no avoiding it. Tevas and Crocs are OK in the mud, your feet will get dirty but dirt washes off. Flip-flops are terrible in deep mud. They slip off too easily. Additionally, if you try to walk through mud they will stick and then the heel will suddenly pull out and flip mud up your back (yes, it happened to me). I bring a pair of 12" Gore-tex waterproof boots to wear when it really gets goopy. That might be a bit extreme, but after getting foot rot at Woodstock '94, I err on the side of having dry feet.
Some people go barefoot at Bonnaroo. You'd have to have really thick soles to do this comfortably as there are areas throughout Bonnaroo that are rough gravel. My feet are not at all up to it, but if you routinely go barefoot and have toughened up your feet it might work for you. Also, there is not a whole lot of broken glass at 'roo, but there is some.