Chattanooga mayor honors rapper Isaiah Rashad at Bonnaroo

MANCHESTER, Tenn. - Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly got on stage at Bonnaroo on Friday and presented rapper Isaiah Rashad, a Chattanooga native, with the key to the city and declared June 17 as Isaiah Rashad Day after he performed on the Which Stage in front of a huge crowd.

"You've made Chattanooga proud," Kelly said.

The Chattanooga rapper locked onto his aspirations in high school and found himself on tour in his early 20s with artists like Juicy J and Joey Basda$$. California-based label Top Dawg Entertainment (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q) took notice and signed Rashad to their label in 2013.

The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival started Thursday and runs through Sunday. A powerful wind and thunderstorm had ripped through the Manchester area on Friday morning, forcing Bonnaroo organizers to shut down all morning activity, including the entrances to the site and the main Centeroo area.

The shelter-in-place command was issued just before 11:30 a.m., and the all-clear was given at 1:45 p.m. While Centeroo, which is home to the 10 main stages and most of the food and merchandise vendors, music wasn't scheduled to begin there on Friday until 1:15 p.m., so the schedule wasn't greatly affected.

People who were trying to either get into the festival for the first time or return to the campsites were delayed.

The powerful winds blew over tents and pop-up shelters all over the 700-acre farm, but did no major damage or injury.

Before his Friday afternoon show, artist Briston Maroney from Knoxville had a special Father's Day message for his father, who was there to see him perform.

"Since I was in high school and seeing the kids come back all tan with their wristbands, I know this was special," he said. "Having him with me is amazing. Everyone else could go away and if it was just him watching, it would be amazing."

The festival has seen numerous changes in its 20-year history and it will continue to evolve, according to Brad Parker, C3 Presents project manager for U.S. festivals.

Parker was asked in a telephone interview last week about what changes might occur since Manchester, Tennessee, annexed the nearly 600 acres of farmland that is home to the festival in 2021. C3 now controls the entire festival, which was founded in 2002 by Superfly and AC Entertainment.

"I know we were annexed by city of Manchester, but we have developed an incredible relationship with Mayor [Marilyn] Howard," he said. "We will continue to work with the city, the county and the state to make Bonnaroo great."

In April, the state of Tennessee began looking at adding a $5 tax to each Bonnaroo ticket sold, leading some to speculate that a rift is developing and the festival could look to move, but the proposal was put on hold for further discussion. Parker said Live Nation is working to see the festival continue and grow and move forward.

AC Entertainment bought most of the 700-acre farm that is home to the four-day festival each June in 2007, and Live Nation bought a controlling interest in the event in 2013.

It now owns AC, Bonnaroo and C3 Presents, which produces the event.

Since it began, Bonnaroo has made millions of dollars in donations to a variety of charities and nonprofit organizations such as high school athletic teams and food banks in Manchester and Coffee County through its Works Fund.

According to a story on, the festival originally agreed to send $3 from each ticket to Coffee County. When the original agreement expired, Bonnaroo wanted the county to earmark some of the ticket fees for infrastructure projects around the property, especially a long-sought road widening and bridge project.

When the county balked, according to the story, talks were begun with the Manchester city government to annex the property. Coffee County leaders contested the annexation in court and began pursuing the new ticket tax.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354. Follow him on Twitter @BarryJC.

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