published Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Older couples find fun

Bonnaroo festival adventure for area residents

MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- As Trombone Shorty performed on the Which Stage, 51-year-old Mark H. Smith danced with his 53-year-old wife, Anita Hartel.

Back in the couple's campsite, their 16-year-old son Wilder was asleep, resting up after listening to music until 5 a.m.

The couple is part of a growing trend at Bonnaroo: older couples either reliving their youth, making up for missing out on Woodstock or looking for an adventure along with their children.

"This is our first festival in 36 years," Mr. Smith said. "This is a wonderful festival and we are having a ball."

Ben Barron, 57, of Dallas, Ga., said that when he and his wife, Kathy, 55, told their 28- and 25-year-old sons that they were coming to Bonnaroo, the boys thought they were kidding.

"We've never been to a music festival before," he said. "We did go see Carole King and James Taylor the other day. The kids are grown and gone, so we thought we'd be young again and have some fun."

Though there's a good sprinkling of baby boomers, most of the more than 75,000 fans here are high school and college-aged.

Maddie Treschuk, 24, and Adam Babitz, 25, are here for the third and second times, respectively.

"I like the music and everyone is really nice," Ms. Treschuk said.

Mr. Babitz said the festival provides a nice break from school and work.

"It's the atmosphere," he said.

The young couple spoke while watching Conan O'Brien perform in the festival's Comedy Tent.

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Though the former "Tonight Show" host took a few swipes at his former network and Jay Leno, he never mentioned either by name at the opening of his hugely attended afternoon set. Some fans started lining up for the show at 5 a.m.

"After being here at Bonnaroo for a couple of hours, I can tell you one thing for sure: We are losing the war on drugs," the comedian said.

Twenty-year-old Jeffrey Hennen of Chattanooga is attending his first Bonnaroo and likes everything but the temperature.

"This heat is pretty brutal," he said.

The festival continues through Sunday night.

Continue reading more Bonnaroo 2010 coverage.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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