While we've reported on the changes taking place at Riverbend, the city's largest music festival, in recent weeks, it should also be noted that the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival just up the road in Manchester, Tennessee, is also making some changes.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone with any history of the festival. Its organizers are constantly tweaking, adding new things like an EDM-dedicated stage, and taking away things such as Roll Like A Rock Star, a high-dollar VIP experience that didn't fit the festival's mission.

For the 2020 Bonnaroo festival, organizers are focusing on traffic — how to get the hoped-for sold-out crowd of 80,000 people into their campsites in a timely manner. I first reported this on The What Podcast at

Jeff Cuellar, vice president of strategic partnerships with AC Entertainment, co-founders and producers of the event, told me that they look at all aspects of the festival every year, and try to fix problems they either see for themselves or hear about from fans.

(Read more: City Beat: Bonnaroo community becoming year-round thing)

For example, over the years they've planted grass to withstand the foot traffic and added flushable toilets to the 700-acre farm.

While most people want to focus on the lineup of acts that will play the festival, these are the kinds of details that separate a good festival from a bad one. Traffic is not as sexy as who's playing, but if you are the guy sitting in your car for 15 or 16 hours waiting to get parked, it sure does matter.

Cuellar said it is not possible to totally alleviate wait times with that many people trying to get in, nor is it possible to fix every problem all at once, but parking is this year's priority.

As part of the new plan, the Groop and tent camping areas will be moved, and in both cases, they will be moved farther away from the entrance. Regular visitors to both have been venting their displeasure at this online, but others are taking a wait-and-see approach, hoping it makes things better.

Also, word is that the Kalliope Stage, which blares EDM music until sunrise, is no more, and that Which Stage will get much-needed upgrades. Sometimes its sound is not very good.

Incidentally, the Riverbend folks tell me they are hoping to make the full lineup announcement "very soon." Bonnaroo's lineup usually comes out in early January.

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Barry Courter

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.


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