MANCHESTER, Tenn. (WTVF) — After two years of cancellations, Bonnaroo is welcomed back to Manchester, Tennessee, by businesses and residents alike.
The festival which is set to host 40,000 Bonnaroovians in 2022, was canceled in 2020 for safety concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic and also in 2021 for severe flooding that covered parts of the 700-acre farm where the festival has carried on for 22 years.
"We're watching it all being built up last year with the you know the flags and getting the tanks and all and then the rains. Oh, the rains came and yeah, you can look over there and it looked like a little lake where Bonnaroo would be. It was bad," explained lifelong Manchester resident Phillip Chessor.
Chessor and other Manchester locals told NewsChannel 5 most of Manchester's 10,000 residents welcome the multi-day festival with open arms.
"It becomes the largest city in the state there for a little while," said Chessor, "It's one week out of the year. It gets hectic, traffic gets kind of wild and but then it settles down. And they're out there and on their own farm and minding their own business. We're just, you know, sitting back and enjoying, you know, the benefits of it."
During the pandemic, Manchester's first brewery opened: Common John.
"When people ask, 'Who is John?' We always say, 'You are!' Because it's kind of like the name was—we wanted kind of you know, like average Joe kinda we wanted to be relateable. We didn't want to you know our slogans, blue collar, white collar, no collar. We want everybody," explained Common John Brewing President and Head Brewer LeBron Haggard.
Haggard grew up in Manchester and had been working on a brewery for years when the pandemic hit.
"We had bought the building like, six months before COVID hit. We were in the middle of construction. So it was like, you know, a lot of people were saying, 'What are you gonna do?' What can we do? I'm not stopping, you know? We're gonna keep going forward," he said.
A life-long Bonnaroo fan, Haggard said he hoped to debut his brewery at the festival before 2022 but the two years of canceled festivals pushed those plans back.
Common John is rooted in music from its beer names to its actual name.
"We were trying to find a name and just we're having a lot of trouble and I actually ran into a buddy of mine whose son was playing at a little free festival they did before Bonnaroo in 2017," recounted Haggard. "He sang a song and I heard it didn't know what it was...[I] came up to him. I was like, ‘What was the song you were singing? I was really-I don't know what you were singing about about...but the way you were singing it and just the vibe is really cool.’ And he's like, ‘Oh, that's our new song that we just dropped. It's called Common John.’"
The brewery has a stage for musical talent and when Bonnaroo was canceled in 2021 for flooding, music continued inside the tap room as many festival-goers and musicians were already in town.
Common John, will make its first appearance at Bonnaroo's craft beer tent Thursday and also keep its tap room open with live music to give festival-goers a place to beat the heat all weekend long.
Common John Hours:
Thursday: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Friday: 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Saturday: 11:00 AM –10:00 PM
Sunday: Noon – 7:00 PM