published Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Festivalgoers prepare for Bonnaroo horde, heat

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    The Bonnaroo Festival. AP photo by Michael Felberbaum

An organized person by nature, Ryne Chambers kept notes from his experience at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival last year.

The Chattanooga resident used those to help plan this year’s excursion and he also kept a box of stuff from last year that he plans to reuse, including a water bottle, sunglasses and a hat.

“I’m not bringing as much stuff as last year,” he said. “Especially clothes. I planned for it to be cooler. I also really didn’t need as much food because it seems like you forget to eat anyway. I am going to redo the animal crackers and peanut butter. It’s just delicious and a good snack and an energy boost.”

The four-day music and camping festival in Manchester, Tenn., opens today with a sold-out crowd of 80,000 people expected. Traffic began lining up Wednesday morning along Interstate 24, according to Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves.

“Manchester [Tenn.] is filling up,” Graves said Wednesday afternoon.

Bonnaroo officials had planned to open one gate at 4 p.m. CDT and another at 6 p.m. CDT, he said.

Chambers, 19, is attending with three friends. He said the group’s plan was to leave Chattanooga this morning in hopes of getting a campsite closer to Centeroo, the festival’s main area of activity.

“Last year, we left Chattanooga at 11 p.m. and pitched camp around 6 a.m., which seemed cool,” he said. “This year, we plan to leave at 4 a.m. [Wednesday] to get in later so hopefully we can get closer to Centeroo. Last year, we had a 45-minute walk from our campsite.”

Chattanooga’s John David Bruce, 19, attended last year’s festival also, though he joined his group on Friday because of work obligations. His best advice is to forget trying to see all the bands you want to see.

“I had a plan of attack, but nothing works out, especially if you want to get up close to the stage,” he said. “My plan of attack this year is to find not just the show I want to see but two or three that are on the same stage [consecutively]. That way you can get up close for all of them.”

Kenna Rewcastle, 18, is attending her first Bonnaroo. The Chattanooga resident said she likely would not be going if she weren’t attending with friends who had been before.

“I don’t think I would be going and I don’t think my parents would have let me go if I wasn’t going with people who’d done it,” she said.

Rewcastle said she is fine with the “whole camping idea,” but she would have had too many questions about attending the festival to go without help.

“They gave me all kinds of advice on what to pack, when to buy tickets, to bring lots of sunscreen, stay hydrated and be patient with the lines.”

Rewcastle recently graduated from high school and, while she never before has attended such an event, she believes the festival will be a good adventure.

“I’ve just heard it’s a lot of fun and a cool experience,” she said. “There are also lots of excellent bands all in one place.”

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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