About 80,000 Bonnaroovians descend each year upon “The Farm” in rural Coffee County to celebrate the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
Out of those who attend, tens of thousands will take up residence in campsites located on the 700-acre site. Along with enjoying the music and other unique activities for which the festival is known, camping at The Farm offers a whole new level of excitement that includes meeting new neighbors, roughing it, and making the most of an extended weekend.
Bonnaroo offers a number of ways to camp that includes “groop” camping, accessible camping, VIP camping, tent-only camping and family camping. Each type of camping has been created to best accommodate the wide variety of festival-goers who attend the festival each year.
Making new friends
“This is our second year camping and we love it,” said camper Russell Chicoine. “We drove in form Connecticut and love the atmosphere of the festival and especially the atmosphere out in the campgrounds. Everyone is always so helpful and willing to share and give advice. We made a lot of friends last year and have been able to meet up with them this year, which has been really nice.”
Taking the RV camping route for the past two years, Chicoine and his family said RV camping is the best way to go.
“While you do have to rough it a little, this is definitely a much more comfortable way for us to camp. This is only our second year of camping and thanks to our ‘Roo neighbors, we have learned so much and look forward to many more trips to Bonnaroo,” he said.
Camped next door to Chicoine is Julie Curby and her family, who have made the trek to Bonnaroo all the way from Austin, Texas.
This is also Curby’s second time camping and she said that camping at the festival has been a breeze.
“They really do make everything so simple. We just came in, set up, and have been taking it easy enjoying the shade with our friends,” she said.
Curby added that last year she and her family camped in a tent on the fairgrounds, which she said was a success; however, she opted for a little more comfort this year and rented a RV to camp in for Bonnaroo 2015.
Curby said one of the best aspects of festival camping is meeting other festival-goers.
“We camp at a lot of festivals around the country and it’s so much fun to meet people from everywhere. This festival especially has such a great vibe and everyone has always been so nice. This is a vacation for us and we truly enjoy being here,” she said.
Katie Piscopo from Michigan said she has become a camping veteran thanks to her Bonnaroo friends.
“This will be my third year camping and I have learned so much from my campsite neighbors. Thanks to them I am now able to help out other ‘newbies’ to the camp scene. I was so thrilled that this year everyone was asking me to help them set up camp,” she said.
Whether you are camping at Bonnaroo or any of the music festivals taking place this summer, here’s a list of the essentials.
Water. It’s obvious, but water is the first item on the list for a reason. With sweating being one of the main activities at the festival, it’s important to stay hydrated. The festival provides free fill-up stations all around the park, but it’s also important to come prepared with a few gallons per person.
Set up your campsite quickly. Get there early. Once campers are inside, it’s important to set up as quickly as possible to keep things moving for other campers coming in behind, as well as to get into the ‘Roo action as soon as possible.
Sun shade. Whether a big fancy sun shade or Mylar sheeting, extra protection from the sun’s rays will help your tent from becoming a make-shift sauna. Even if you’re resorting to sticks, blankets and rope, it’s better than nothing.
Earplugs. Music, festival activities, and more can keep you up all night, so be prepared with a handy pair of ear plugs to allow for a few hours of peaceful sleep.
Towels. In addition to showering, between the rivers of sweat, the inevitable rain and whatever spills are bound to occur, you’ll want a few towels nearby to handle whatever needs absorbing.
Tent flag. Get a flag or balloon and fly it above your tent. When you’re exhausted at the end of a long day of rockin’ in the sunshine, it can be a soul crushing experience to stumble around trying to find your tent among the tens of thousands on the fields of ‘Roo.
Padding. Whether blankets, an inflatable raft, an air mattress or a camping pad, you’ll want something to give you a little leverage off the hard ground. Sleeping will be far easier when you’re not spending the night trying to navigate around a rock poking you through the bottom of the tent.
Water sprayer. With a battery operated fan, especially one with an attached mister, you’ll find a little relief from the sweltering madness of humidity and baking heat. Bring extra batteries, of course.
Toilet paper. With 100,000 festival-goers on hand, there won’t always been enough toilet paper to go around, so be prepared, not sorry.
Flashlights. Don’t rely on glow sticks or your iPhone. Spend a few bucks for a couple mini Maglites or equivalent, or splurge and pick up a battery-powered lantern for $20. The key here is comfort – when you can’t see a damn thing inside your tent, tempers are going to flare. And let’s not even talk about watching for poison ivy.
Tecnu. If you’re not generally the outdoorsy type, you’ve never heard of it – but this could save your weekend. Tecnu was originally intended to wash radioactive dust off a person’s skin, it’s more practically used to eliminate the oil from poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. In other words, keep it on hand when you’re stomping through the thicker green out there and avoid a miserable tangle with Mother Nature’s tentacles.
Food. You can go the grill route or you can go the retail route, but if you want to keep it cheap and easy pack as much healthy food as you can ahead of time. Apples, granola bars, trail mix, beef jerky, peanut butter, salami, cheese, crackers, etc. Bring enough to share, and make some friends at meal time.
Rain gear. Ponchos, extra clothing, Ziploc bags, tent seam sealant, the works – be prepared for wetness. If you’re ready for whatever the skies are bringing down on you, a little rain isn’t going to ruin your fun.
Dry Ice. A bit tricky to find depending on your location, but dry ice can make all the difference in maintaining the coolness of your cooler, far beyond regular ice. Buy a few pounds to last you a few days, and you’ll be able to bring perishable foods for the trip and also have cold water all weekend long.