As a fourth year “roonie,” I actually experienced Bonnaroo for the first time this past year. I didn’t hide in a tent to sell items and beg for tips. No, this time I went, listened, and watched.
I can sum up the Bonnaroo Music Festival into two words: an adventure. Since I am usually just a vendor, I don’t see everything much less hear everything. This year, however, was a different story. I saw more of people than I ever intended and learned more than I ever wanted.
My experience this year did start out with me working except it was in a different capacity. The Sunday before Bonnaroo started, the director of missions from our region of churches came and spoke. He mentioned the fact that there was a ministry tent. I thought it would be a great opportunity to serve others especially in that atmosphere, so off I went headfirst not really knowing what to expect.
Our tent gave out a variety of free stuff, and for the most part everyone was very grateful for the free water and lemonade. In ninety degree weather, anyone would be. The majority of the people who came in congregated and sat down to cool off with the fans. And while they sat, they had the opportunity to look at all the tracks and New Testament Bibles and talk to us. I watched some even take them. I wonder if some of those people will ever read what’s inside them.
Other than my ministry opportunities, I got what I felt like was a huge photography assignment. I received media bands and the assignment from local paper to photograph different people and bands at the festival. It was an interesting assignment to say the least.
I saw a whole bunch of things. Some of which I had no desire to photograph. Some of the things were cool though. On the first day, I watched two guys graffiti the wall outside of Centeroo. One of them was spelling out something with his own creative flair while the other was making a Pokemon collage. It was definitely different.
The best photography experiences I had were when I went to photograph the bands. It was so neat, and I am blessed that I got the opportunity to do this at all. Some of the media pits felt more like a mosh pit. But as one of my CBS/Sony buds told me, this was not going to be a delicate job. I found it not to be a delicate job at 5’3’’. But I always tried to make the best of my situation and do the best I could despite the fact that I am vertically challenged.
However, Bonnaroo was not all work and no play. I got listen to some great musicians on my Bonnaroo journey. I listened to Warren Haynes, Florence + the Machine, Mumford & Sons, and Buffalo Springfield.
I actually stood in line with a couple of friends for almost four hours to get in the pit for Buffalo Springfield. They hadn’t toured since the 60’s so it was totally worth it. I even met a blind guy that lived right outside of Boston, Mass., who came to hear them. As I said, Bonnaroo is full of interesting individuals.
After my first real experience, I would like to think I will go back. It depends on who is playing and if I get another assignment. Bonnaroo is sort of like another world entirely. However, it is good to sometimes to get a taste of something different. Life is an adventure after all.