It’s no longer music in a cow pasture.
Entering year 13 of the Bonnaroo Music Festival, visitors can enjoy attractions such as a digital movie theater, yoga and gardening classes, and even an upscale coffee shop. It’s all part of how the festival has evolved and incorporated new features over the years.
The four-day festival gets under way with its first musical act Thursday at 3 p.m. and is scheduled to come to a close Sunday at 9:30 p.m. with a performance from Elton John. The festival has become a popular spot for Warren County residents, many of whom like to gather outside the Prater’s BBQ booth that’s in a prime location in front of the main stage. Prater’s BBQ received a shout-out in Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top spots to visit while at the festival.
Bonnaroo is a financial bonanza with MTSU estimating the annual event injects $15 million into the Middle Tennessee economy. It also creates its share of legal work as Coffee County court records show there were $621,000 in Bonnaroo-related citations paid last year.
In addition to music, the Bonnaroo Cinema has a full lineup of movies and entertainment planned. This digital theater allows visitors to relax in air-conditioned comfort and is open 24 hours a day.
Among the movies scheduled to be shown this year is the original “Friday the 13th” which will be shown, appropriately, on Friday the 13th. Other comedies and cult classics include “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Groundhog Day,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai” and “This Is Spinal Tap.”
For sports enthusiasts, two NBA Finals games will be shown in the theater on Thursday and Sunday.
If you want to get some exercise, yoga classes are available. There’s also the Bonnaroo Learning Garden where visitors can participate in workshops and learn how to start their own garden. The workshops include how to garden in small places for people who don’t have the luxury of a lot of land.
Bonnaroo and recycling go hand in hand. So do Bonnaroo and beer. For festival-goers who plan on consuming alcoholic beverages, Bonnaroo has unveiled a reusable beer mug in place of plastic cups that are used and thrown in the trash. People who buy a reusable beer mug keep it the entire weekend and get cheaper prices when they use it to buy beer.
As for camping accomodations, Bonnaroo is looking to make attending the festival as easy as possible. If you would like to bring your own tent or RV, that is still encouraged. However, families who would like to travel a little lighter can rent a tent and cots at Bonnaroo. When they arrive at the festival grounds, their tent is already set up and ready to go. Bonnaroo organizers had planned to offer an RV rental service for this year’s festival, but that program wasn’t able to materialize.
As for traffic concerns, much has changed since the festival brought traffic to a standstill on Interstate 24 its first few years. The Tennessee Highway Patrol and Tennessee Department of Transportation have worked closely with Bonnaroo officials over the years, even giving the festival its own temporary exit off the interstate, Exit 113.
To give vehicles more time to enter the grounds, Bonnaroo will officially open its gates Wednesday at 8 p.m. State troopers will be on the job 24 hours a day beginning Wednesday night, patrolling on the ground and by air.
“We hope our increased visibility on I-24 will have an impact on driver behavior and help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes on this major traffic corridor during the Bonnaroo festivities,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said.
During Bonnaroo 2013, state troopers logged nearly 6,000 man hours, worked 17 traffic crashes (one fatal, three with injury, and 13 property damage crashes), and wrote 88 citations. This including 22 citations for speeding and nine for driving under the influence.