MANCHESTER, Tenn. — It's 11 a.m. on The Farm, or Great Stages Park, or Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. It goes by many names. People who have been here before call it The Farm. Newbies call it Bonnaroo. Nobody calls it Great Stages Park.
It's Friday, day two, or three, depending on whether you got here Tuesday or Wednesday. In order to alleviate the traffic in Manchester, where the festival is held, officials started letting fans who travel from all over the country and from almost 30 countries around the world, in around 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
Most of the crowd arrives on Thursdays.
Several of the guys from Redderoo, a community based on newbies and regulars who communicate online throughout the year, arrived Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. They've been working nonstop to prepare for the weekend.
"I'm kind of the camp daddy," says Mitchel Badgett, one of the camp's founders and organizers. "I'm good with organizing about 300 people."
He said it gets a little frazzled after that. Way out in row 80 of Groop Camping, about 300 people had gathered under the hot sun to sift through coolers, baby pools and tubs of beer, looking for something new.
On Thursday, Badgett was deep in the middle of putting on the group's annual beer exchange. It is exactly what it sounds like. Bring a beer, a quality beer preferably produced where you are from, and exchange it for another. It's a great way to try new beer and meet people, but more importantly, it represents what Bonnaroo tries to be; a place where people can not only have a great experience, but create. Redderoo is just one of hundreds or thousands of individual camps within a bigger campground.
Each creates its own experience. Some are created by the festival.
One of the new festival-generated experiences is the Bonnaroo University. Thursday afternoon the brother trio AJR spoke to a group of students who are studying the festival process, including how the publicity and marketing process works. Brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met shared with the students how they manage to use social media and what it is like navigating the music world, including creating their own label and hiring their own media team.
"The most valuable thing is being a good songwriter," said Ryan Met, "even more than being a good singer. What you bring to the table that others don't is what matters."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.