Bonnaroo comes to a close

Bonnaroo comes to a close

June 15th, 2009 by Barry Courter in Fyi Bonnaroo 2009

MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- As the more than 75,000 people from all over the country and world who attended this year's Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival head home today, they will have plenty to talk about, if they are not sleeping.

The festival opened Thursday with thunderstorms and rain showers turning the 700-acre site into a mud pit and concluded this morning with Phish playing the second of two sets at the festival.

In between, fans saw performances by the Beastie Boys, Bruce Springsteen, Snoop Dogg, Public Enemy, a surprise performance by Jimmy Buffett, Chattanooga's own Roger Alan Wade and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, who was everywhere it seemed.

Comedian Robert Smigel's best-known character did four sets in the Comedy Tent, made fun of fellow panelists during a news conference and took to the stage during Springsteen's three-hour marathon Saturday night.

Fans also were treated to a marathon performance by moe, which started an hour or so after midnight and ended after 5:30 Sunday morning.

"We got to watch the sunrise for the second straight morning," said Colorado resident Pete Ware. He and his girlfriend, Kim Markley, made the trip from Colorado.

Michael Alfano, co-owner of the Comedy Catch in Chattanooga, said on Sunday that the festival has been a lot of fun and once-in-a-lifetime experience. He borrowed an RV and made the trek with his son Evan, a recent high school graduate.

"I've loved it," he said. "I'm not a huge music guy, but with Bruce being here and the chance to do it with my son, who will be going away to college, it was a "Bucket List" thing for me. Buffett was a nice surprise, too."

AJ Farinella, a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, said his first Bonnaroo has been better than he expected.

"I thought I'd have to miss a bunch of shows, but I've seen pretty much everything I wanted to see," he said.

Girl Talk's late night/early morning Saturday show was the highlight for him.

"He was awesome," Mr. Farinella said.

Co-organizer Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment in Knoxville said this year's festival was one of the most successful in the event's eight-year history.

"Everything just seemed to go right," he said.

Nearly all of the 80,000 available tickets were sold, and several vendors interviewed during the festival reported better-than-last-year sales.

Mr. Capps said last week that buying 530 of the 700 acres used for the festival has made running the operation more efficient. It allowed them to run electricity in the main areas, which cut down on generator noise and exposed cables. He said more infrastructure improvements are planned, though he declined to reveal those plans.

He also said plans are in the works to use the site for other events.