The iconic Bonnaroo arch has burned to the ground, but have the old ways of Bonnaroo etiquette gone up in smoke too?
I first attended Bonnaroo in 2009 when I was 16. On the ride into Roo, a man was walking with a back-pack and a head full of red dreadlocks.
We offered him a ride so he wouldn’t have to walk several miles to the entrance. Thanking us profusely, he hopped in and began talking about his excitement and gratitude to be able to see his favorite band, Phish. He ended up camping with us once we arrived.
I remember him eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of his backpack for every meal.
It was one of the few things he brought with him, yet he still offered to share his PB&J’s with us every time.
I remember him passionately dancing with his dreadlocks whipping wildly to the music as we all grooved to MGMT’s 3 a.m. show.
That same year, a massive thunderstorm with heavy lightning closed down CenterRoo. Everyone ran for cover. Most campsites welcomed those seeking shelter from the storm with open arms, providing a dry place to stay and the pleasure of enjoying one another’s company until the rain dissipated.
Since I have the privilege of living so close to the Farm, I handed a few of my flannels and other warm items I had to individuals who were wet, cold and had most of their camp items soaked.
During those years, people weren’t as concerned about locking their cars or having to monitor their campsites. Items that were lost were often turned into lost and found.
Water was given out to those who were thirsty or obviously needed hydration, whether the individual realized it or not, and food was made available to people who were low on cash and far from home.
When someone was obviously in trouble or needed help, individuals would comfort them, lead them to the first aid tent or welcome the struggling person into their own camp until they were capable of heading out again.
If someone had blankets on the grass to sit or lie on while waiting for a concert, people were careful to avoid stepping on the blanket, much less the human being on it.
Right before a show began, no one pushed past or jumped in front of people to reach the front row since the individuals who were already there had dedicated hours of their time waiting diligently for that spot.
Bonnaroo continues to be a magical and unique place with a one-of-a-kind feeling of community, and the majority of people are still very caring, respectful and good-hearted.
However, as citizens of the Roo community, it is up to us to continue to radiate the positivity Bonnaroo is all about.
Keep the high-five’s going, meet new people and make new friends, take care of one another, be good to the land and continue spreading the shouts of “Bonnarooooo!”
Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.