There’s a beauty shop, a 5K race, even a health and wellness tent where you can take yoga classes.
This is what Bonnaroo has become in its 12th year in Manchester.
This year will feature – among the biggest legends in music – Paul McCartney as the Bonnaroo headliner.
“He’s definitely royalty,” said Bonnaroo co-founder Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment.
Added co-founder Rick Farman of Superfly Productions, “He’s the biggest name we’ve ever had.”
McCartney anchors the Bonnaroo lineup with a performance Friday night at 9 p.m.
Other major acts include Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Sunday at 9 p.m.), Mumford & Son (Saturday at 9:30 p.m.), ZZ Top ( Friday at 11:30 p.m.), and Billy Idol (Saturday at midnight).
It turns out, McCartney is a deal that’s been years in the making.
“The ball first got rolling during a trip to London in 2007,” said Capps. “To get a guy like McCartney, it’s one of those things where the stars and the moon have to align just right. Well here we are six years later and everything has fallen into place.”
With more than a decade of experience, Bonnaroo is looking for ways to grow like never before. The beauty shop is a perfect example, Farman says, of how the festival is trying to adapt to fill the needs of its patrons.
Other additions are expected in the future.
“Bowling sounds good,” said Capps with a smile. “Roller skating sounds good too, or maybe even ice skating. But this is all just talk at this point.”
Ken Weinstein of Big Hassle Media has been with Bonnaroo from the start. He says the 5K race stems from years of watching festival-goers exercise.
“We have people who wake up in the morning and go for a run,” said Weinstein, who noted more than 1,000 people have already registered for the 5K. It’s set for Saturday at 9 a.m.
“It’s like any other 5K, other than the fact it goes through the grounds of Bonnaroo,” said Jeff Cuellar, director of community relations for AC Entertainment.
Another change has been made to the camping areas where pods have been developed to provide more of a sense of community. Each pod will feature its own medical tent and general store to help campers stay closer to home when not catching a live show. Groups can also request a camping area together for the first time.
“You want to be close to your friends at Bonnaroo,” said Cuellar. “Just like you don’t want your family to be spread out all over the country, you don’t want to have to walk all over Bonnaroo to see your friends.”
Bonnaroo requires around 7,500 workers scattered over the 700-acre farm. There are also a number of volunteers. Farman says the Bonnaroo grounds are maintained year round.
“There’s a chunk of workers who get here months before the festival, in addition to the ones who get here weeks before,” said Farman.
Vendors fill nearly every available space, offering a wide spectrum of items from clothing to musical instruments. One vendor named Global Scents was offering incense and scented oils.
“We travel all over the country doing festivals,” said Global Scents employee Ali Benson of Atlanta. She was joined in the booth with co-workers from Minnesota and New Orleans. “We’re from all over the place and we do this all year. Renaissance festivals are big for us. Some of them are eight weeks long so that allows us to stay in the same place for awhile.”
Two young women made the trip from San Francisco to sell coats and clothing.
“This is the first show we’ve ever done,” said one of the women who only wanted to be identified as Melissa. “Every time we tell someone this is our first show they just roll their eyes and wish us good luck. That kind of makes me nervous.”
Farman announced Bonnaroo tickets sold out early Wednesday morning. Organizers say a sellout is right at 80,000 tickets.
Festival-goers were allowed on the grounds beginning Wednesday night at 6 p.m. Music began Thursday.
Over the years, Bonnaroo has featured big names such as The Police, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Dead, Stevie Wonder, Metallica, Neil Young, Alice Cooper, Dave Matthews Band, Kayne West, and Eminem.