June 12-15 • Manchester, TN
Weather and traffic problems are nothing new for the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, which gets underway today in Manchester, Tenn., but heavy rains leading up to the four-day event are making just getting people into the site a little trickier.
"It is pretty muddy, and that will make getting everybody in slower," Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves said.
On Wednesday evening, campers were delayed almost two hours from getting into the Guest Camping area because of the wet ground. It opened around 8:30 p.m., and campers began looking for high ground to place their campsites.
Since the inaugural event in 2002, organizers have worked with city and county officials to make getting more than 80,000 festivalgoers to the site, which is built each year on 700 acres of Tennessee farmland, quicker and safer. Any delays should only be for festivalgoers, however. Bonnaroo traffic is diverted to the shoulder of Interstate 24 going east and west, and the highway's two primary lanes remain uncongested.
Today is essentially move-in day for many of the patrons, most of whom will be in tents and makeshift campsites. To accommodate the traffic volume, which is slowed by vehicle searches at the entrance gate, festivalgoers are let in on Wednesday.
Graves said organizers planned to begin allowing people in around 6 p.m. Wednesday, two hours ahead of schedule.
Brent and Stephanie Large, both 45, will be attending their first festival this weekend with their son, Tyler, 23, a veteran of several Bonnaroos. They are spending the weekend in an RV and especially looking forward to seeing The Avett Brothers and Elton John on Sunday.
"Stephanie's become a huge Avett Brothers fan," Large said. "I'm looking forward to going and people watching. Everything I've heard about it is that everyone is really nice and it's just a good time."
Also attending his first Bonnaroo will be Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. He will be one of the all-stars performing during the Saturday late night SuperJam. Joining Krieger will be Skrillex, who is serving as band leader, Big Gigantic with special guests Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Zedd, Mickey Hart, Janelle Monáe, Joel Cummins, Warpaint, Chance the Rapper, Mike Einziger, Ruby Amanfu, High & Mighty Horns and Thundercat.
In addition to the biggest acts in the world, it's these types of special showcases that Bonnaroo fans especially enjoy. Last year's SuperJam, for example, featured My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, John Hall of Hall & Oates, bass legend Larry Graham, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and appearances by Billy Idol and R. Kelly.
Krieger said in a conference call with reporters he's not sure how he got added to such an eclectic lineup, but he's game "to try anything once.
"Well, it's always kind of a crap shoot, you know? I have no idea what we're going to do or what it's going to sound like. But whatever it is, it should be fun," Krieger said.
"I think they want to try to do some - a couple of Doors songs and some reggae songs, and I'm not sure how Skrillex is going to fit into that.
"I know he plays really loud. So I'm bringing an extra amplifier."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.