for anyone who doesn’t know what bonnaroo is you can start here: bonnaroo! But basically bonnaroo is a large scale music festival held out on an enormous farm in manchester, tennessee over the course of 4 days in the middle of june. i(caleb) have been twice before and this was amy’s second year to go. this time marked the 16th year the festival has been in existence. it is definitely one of the biggest festivals around with thousands making their way out to the farm each and every year. obviously, the music lineup delivers a massive draw to fans, but there is so much more to bonnaroo than just going to a few concerts everyday on a farm.
there are almost an unlimited amount of topics i could choose to focus on when talking about our bonnaroo experience this past weekend june 7-11, 2017. i could talk about the shows. i could talk about the camping in a mass of 50+ thousand people in the heat of june. i could talk about the art, or the food or just the logistics. but i’m gonna focus on a different aspect of bonnaroo for this post(don’t worry, i doubt it will be the last post about ‘roo!) but bonnaroo is just different, man. i’ve been to a few other music festivals, and while at times they deliver on the music lineup(even roo has it down years in that respect), the reason bonnaroo stands out in my mind when compared to other festivals is the culture.
chalk it up to any amount of reasons: the music, the isolated location, the art, the camping, whatever you want, but once you step onto the bonnaroo grounds a change happens and it is a change in culture. amy and i talked about it several times over the course of our experience this year but there is nothing really to compare it to. bonnaroo’s main motto is radiate positivity, which has to be one of the greatest mottos ever. but that motto has transcended the festival over it’s life like no other. those words have built the foundation for the culture that exists at bonnaroo. radiating positivity. in the midst of massive crowds( reported 65,000+ at U2 this year) in sweltering heat with little sleep, and rampant amounts of intoxication, one would think that could easily lay a different type of foundation. but it doesn’t happen. people truly embrace the mindset, lifestyle and culture that bonnaroo strives to exude.
you feel it right when you drive in. there is a spirit of freedom, of community and of love. you feel it when you meet your neighbors and help them set up their campsites. you feel it the first time you walk through the arch and high five hundreds on the way in. bonnaroo hasn’t just created a weekend long camping and music festival, ‘roo has created a utopia for people to embrace love, explore community, have fun and be free with no judgements and no hate.
i think when many people think of bonnaroo they think of crazed drug and alcohol induced young adults doing nothing but going crazy in a field for a few days and indulging all their wildest fantasies with the help of intoxicants. and yeah, in a crowd that large it is most definitely a sight you will come across more than once, but unlike the “real” world, the small and minute negative people, or incidents or what-have-you, don’t define the culture of the world of bonnaroo. one day while we were there, amy and i were walking around and she said something to the affect of how many people probably view bonnaroo as a place absent of god, where debauchery and evil reigns, but it is the opposite. ‘roo is almost a little slice of heaven on earth, not because of the the great times, good music or good food( i ❤ spicy pie) but because of the spirit, the vibes, and the life that ‘roo has created. when love abounds without judgement, when freedom is given with a high five and a hug and not a list of parameters and rules, when people come together to celebrate life and community, then heaven is not so far away. this is the bonnaroo experience, and its’ a darn good one.
peace + love,