Bonnaroo Gates Open Early To Alleviate Traffic Concerns
MANCHESTER, Tenn. - The 2012 Bonnaroo festival got underway early after officials opened the gates several hours early to accommodate campers and alleviate traffic concerns.
The gates opened at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday instead of 7 p.m. when they were scheduled – and "Bonnaroonies" began setting up camp to get ready for the music that begins Thursday.
It's year number eleven for Bonnaroo. With 80,000 thousand tickets sold at about $250 each, Bonnaroo has become one of the premier music festivals in the country.
Every year on the Wednesday before the concerts begin traffic around Manchester turns into a mess.
"It was backed up so far, and we were literally on the shoulder of the interstate," said music fan Rebecca Gessler. "
Another car full of festival goers were making guesses at how long the traffic would take to die down.
"He thinks we're going to be here forever. I hope it's going to be only three hours" said Tyler Myers.
Officials said once the gates open, traffic around town returns to normal.
Manchester Mayor Betty Superstein said people who live in the area stay home for the duration of the event. She said she has the sales tax receipts to prove it.
"You know, they aren't going out to eat. They aren't going out shopping, so many of the restaurants tell us, ‘We might as well close for the week of Bonnaroo," said Superstein.
She said they hoped to draw more residents out to local businesses.
Bonnaroo has made changes inside the festival this year. Bermuda grass was planted all over the site to keep people comfortable. More shade stations have been added with lots of water to stay hydrated.
The event attracts all genres of music artists and fans. This year features bands like Fish, Radiohead, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even the Beach Boys.
"I'm really excited for our Superjam. I think that's going to be really special this year," said festival co-founder and co-producer Rick Farman. "There's just an amazing span of acts across various genres that we think will really excite everyone."
When the event started over a decade ago, Farman said he had no idea it would grow so big. He said 11 years ago the goal was just to have one good event, but it has mushroomed into one of the biggest annual music shows in the country.
"At the beginning we were thinking about doing just one, so we're obviously ecstatic that it's been so successful and continues to go on. We hope to be here for many, many decades," said Farman.
He attributed the festival's success to its location in Middle Tennessee.
"We sell tickets in all 50 states. We sell tickets in, I think, 30 or 40 different countries. Tennessee obviously has the infrastructure with the Nashville airport, hotels and other things that exist in the area, and it's a day's drive from about 75 percent of the population in America," said Farman. "It wouldn't be what it is – it wouldn't be this national/international event if it wasn't located here."
Bonnaroo runs until Sunday and features several venues, including Centeroo, the What Stage, Which Stage, and a Comedy Tent. Farman said the 2012 event was sold out.