Manchester, TN

Bonnaroo Returns After a 2-Year Hiatus - Patrons Flock to The Farm In Spite of Record Heat

John M. Dabbs
Bonnaroovians mingle WednesdayNikki Lewin-Dabbs/Photographer

Bonnaroovians returned to Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tennessee, this week. The venue opened the gates Tuesday and Wednesday to reduce traffic congestion with DOT not allowing the unofficial off-ramp to be used this year from the interstate.

Roo returns

While Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was able to make a comeback this year, things are different. With the festival canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and canceled again in 2021 due to flooding, things changed again with a change in production companies.

The four-day festival has reduced the number of tickets sold to a fraction of normal due to concerns about a resurgence in COVID-19 variants. We've seen changes on site due to the production company changes as well. While the stages are static, the support services and locations of a few areas, like medical and security, have changed. Volunteer and medical camping have moved to where Main Medical used to be located. Medical is now located in the house at the turn, with the medivac helicopters landing nearby.

Security checkpoints were a bit more thorough, even for staff this year and the security staff was a bit more grumpy than usual - take into consideration we are at record heat levels with a heat index of about 105.
Main Stage 1 by Nathan Zucker - Bonnaroo 2019Nathan Zucker/


The festival theme is a rerun that makes the event its own. The crowds are still eclectic and feel free to express themselves in any way they want. We see many younger people who choose to express their orientation or sexuality, and older patrons who are happy to be who they are as well.

The vibe continues to be one of freedom, once inside the checkpoints. The Bonnaroo roosts are present in the forest with plenty of hammocks to chill and relax a bit. The music kicks off today at noon to the delight of the Bonnaroovian nation.

Happy Roo!

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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