Student reflects on attending Bonnaroo

Reporter and Reporter

For 4 days in early June each year Manchester, Tennessee grows from a relatively small population to the second biggest population in the state.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival hosted in Manchester each year is one of the biggest music festivals in the U.S. and attracts music fans from all over the country. The size of the festival slowly becomes realized as you wait in the two hour line to get into the festival. The achingly slow line is no indication of the nonstop that awaits attendees once they get inside the gates of Bonnaroo.

The draw to the festival for most people who have not been to the festival is the big headliners that make up the lineup each year. Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Phish took on the honors this year, and as expected they all played great shows.

However, having these big acts is a staple for any festival and is not what separates the Bonnaroo experience from other festivals. It is the people that make up the long, spiraling line leading to the entrance of Bonnaroo that makes the experience.

Strangers at first, it is not long before a bond is formed unlike anything I have ever experienced. Once in the gates, tents start sprouting up all over the 700 acre farm. A community is formed over night.

To the left of our tent were the boys from Kentucky, who decided only five hours before to come to the festival with only a tent, two chairs and a case of beer. In the front were the fraternity brothers from Boston who never seemed to leave the campsite. To the right were the friends from California that drove in a compact car for days just to get to the festival. We all came from different places, but were all there for the same thing.

Once that unrelenting Tennessee sun rises at 8 a.m. the morning after everyone has set up their tent, the festival officially kicks off. It is the anything-goes melting pot of music, dance and freedom that you always expected it to be. That does not go said without some caution. Bonnaroo is an adult dose. One day the harsh heat, lack of water and a beer too many could put you in the medical tent, while all of your friends are in the music tent listening to Skrillex to 4 a.m. Other days, when you find a perfect balance, you can enjoy the great sense of community and music that Bonnaroo can offer to you. One moment you are thrashing in the middle of a mosh pit in a hardcore show with people hanging from the rafters, and the next moment you are chilling in the grass fields soaking in the sounds of the summer with The Beach Boys.

Like all good things the festival seems to flash before your eyes, like one day-long lucid dream, and you are packing up your tent. It is at this point, when you are finding it hard to say goodbye to your neighbors that you have only known for a short while, that you realize the magic of Bonnaroo. These people are not a big part of your life and you probably will never see them again, but the experiences of Bonnaroo brought you all together; a bond that will likely draw you back to Bonnaroo in the future.