Parker Reed was in a car "packed to the gills" with two friends as they hit the halfway point of their 700-mile drive to Manchester, Tennessee. That's when his phone started blowing up with posts and texts that the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival had been canceled.
"We were about eight hours into our drive and had just hit Metropolis, Illinois, where we always stop, when [the news] hit," he said.
Reed is the co-host of the Roo Hamm podcast, "the world's only podcast about Bonnaroo and Hamm's beer," and on Wednesday morning, the 13 members of the Roo Hamm "Groop" (as Bonnaroo patrons who camp together are known), were holed up in a hotel room in Nashville trying to figure out where they could spend the weekend camping and what they would do for entertainment.
With him was his show co-host Jake Dalbey. They had secured a hotel room in Nashville for Tuesday night before making the drive and had extended it for Wednesday, but after that, they had no definitive plans.
"We do have all of this camping equipment and food," he said.
Dalbey lives in Minneapolis and his group of friends met up with Reed's in Des Moines on Monday and eight people in four automobiles made the 12-hour drive to Nashville.
"The thing was, we had people in our group flying from Los Angeles, Denver and New York and we left them messages saying, 'Call me when you get off your flight.'"
Like most of the 80,000 people expected to descend on Manchester for the festival, Reed and friends were monitoring the situation surrounding the remnants of Hurricane Ida as it dumped rain on the Bonnaroo Farm and talking with friends who were volunteers for the festival and on site.
"They were like, 'We are full steam ahead,' so we were feeling good about it," he said.
Mitchell Padgett, also a Bonnaroo veteran, is co-host of an independent party within the big party called the Camp Reddaroo Beer Exchange. He said they were expecting anywhere from 1,000 to 1,600 people at the event.
"Put it this way, Pontoon Brewing Co. was bringing 15 pallets full of beer for the event," he said.
Padgett said "I was literally loading the car to head to Nashville for one night and then to Manchester" when he saw the announcement.
"I had marinated steak and made pulled pork and had all these Ziploc bags of food with menus for every day. But, the funniest thing I saw was one guy had just exchanged his wristband and [souvenir] cup for money when both guys got texts on their phones. They just handed everything back."
Mitchell said he also saw pictures of a volunteer's car stuck in the mud on the farm Tuesday night. The tow truck that came to get it out damaged the car and also got stuck, and the much bigger truck that came to get them out got stuck.
"From what I understand, there are about 90 volunteers still on site because they can't get their cars out," he said.
His beer exchange co-host Kevin Barnes was contacted immediately after the announcement by Manchester city official Ryan French about putting together some sort of event not only for people already in Manchester, but vendors and even musicians looking to do something "for the community."
Barnes has put together something called the Other Fest at Common Johns Brewing Co. in Manchester. Andy Frasco has agreed to perform and Spicy Pie pizza, which had planned to be part of the Beer Exchange, in addition to vending during the festival, will be involved.
Barnes said several hundred festivalgoers have found camping or lodging around Manchester, and he expects they will attend the events over the weekend.
"People keep asking me how I'm doing," Barnes said. "I'm fine. I hate it for the community. It's a passion for us, because of the community."
Several dozen other Roo veterans have planned a private Mini Roo nearby as well.
Barnes also has seen the pictures online of the vehicles stuck in the mud on the Bonnaroo Farm and believes officials made the right call. Reed agreed and said his group will make the most of the weekend, even if it sets each of them back upwards of $1,000.
"Some in our group have never been," he said. "They've heard us talk about the community, but you have to experience it. I hope they can give it another chance.
"What's funny is we started our podcast less than two years ago. There hasn't been a Bonnaroo in two years and we still do a podcast about it."
On its social media pages, Bonnaroo thanked the many staff members and volunteers who tried to make the festival work.
"To the entire Bonnaroo crew, we cannot thank you enough for overcoming the mountain of adversity you faced and the herculean effort it took to get the show as close as it could to be ready to play. While it was impossible to have a show this year after the storm, without you ... "
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.