Fans and festival planners prepare for 11th annual Bonnaroo Fans and festival planners prepare for 11th annual Bonnaroo
If it’s blazing hot in Tennessee, it must be time for engine Bonnaroo, the popular music and comedy festival which for four days each... Fans and festival planners prepare for 11th annual Bonnaroo

If it’s blazing hot in Tennessee, it must be time for engine Bonnaroo, the popular music and comedy festival which for four days each year descends on the small town of Manchester, TN. This year the festival runs from June 7 through 10, and, as always, will take place at Great Stage Park on the grounds of a 700 acre farm in Manchester.

The festival which began ten years ago as a celebration of folk rock and jam bands, has expanded greatly over recent years to include such diverse musical genres as alternative rock, reggae, jazz, and hip hop. Last year’s featured bands included The Black Keys, Lil Wayne, Neon Trees, and gospel legend Mavis Staples. This year’s musical roster promises to be just as eclectic, with the Beach Boys, electronica star Skrillex, rapper Mac Miller, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the first ever appearance of alternative rock wunderkinds Foster the People.

The event has also become a go-to spot for famous and not-so-famous comedians, with a dedicated comedy tent open each night of the festival. Comedians lending their talents to past festivals include Conan O’Brien and Janeane Garafalo. This year the festival will see performances by up-and-coming comic Aziz Ansari and veteran Stephen Wright.

For four days in June, the small town of Manchester, normally a town with 10,000 residents, accepts the onslaught of over 100,000 Bonnaroovians with grace. According to the web-only daily Chattanoogan.com, business owners and residents alike welcome the annual visit with open arms, extending business hours, providing festival goers with water and shade as they wait to enter the grounds, and even constructing a new highway exit open only during the festival to ease traffic congestion.

One of the most talked-about features of Bonnaroo is its leading role in the “greening” of the music festival. Recycling is encouraged throughout the event, with the Clean Vibes Trading Post accepting recyclables from patrons in exchange for various earth-friendly product rewards. A solar powered stage helps to reduce the event’s carbon footprint, and stalls hosted by environmentally conscious businesses abound.

Ticketing is ever-evolving at Bonnaroo, which recently made the switch to RFID technology in admission wristbands. Each wristband, applied on-site by event staff, comes with its own unique code that assists in logging in the patron, as well as for quick and easy invalidation should the band become lost or stolen.

A recent article in the International Business Times also notes that RFID technology also has the capability to load and track funds for the user, eliminating the need for a wallet or credit cards at the event itself. It is not immediately clear from the festival’s website if this feature will be available at Bonnaroo 2012.

Attendees are requested to register their bands on the Bonnaroo site for the Festival database, and in return they are promised social media bonuses, free music, discounts on merchandise, and a chance to win a 2013 Ford Escape.

According to Bonnaroo’s website, the first four levels of admission to the event have sold out, with only the fifth and highest price level, at $259 for one person and one car, currently available. VIP packages for two, including “exclusive view areas,” free merchandise and access to an opening night party and various exclusive lounges, are still available at the price of $1399.

Mike Janes, general manager of Event Ticketing for ticket search engine Fansnap.com, also sees a brisk pace for ticket sales on the secondary market.

“We are finding about 1300 ticket listings for Bonnaroo,” Janes recently told TicketNews, “and as usual it is one of most popular events with a little something for everybody with Radiohead, Phish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Beach Boys headlining.”

“The minimum get-in asking price for the four day pass ran as high as $300 in early March and more recently has leveled at about $160.

“Bonnaroo is our current most searched festival, not to mention that Radiohead, Phish, and Red Hot Chili Peppers are amongst our most searched for bands!”