Bonnaroo 2018: Wednesday

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival 2018 logo

Bonnaroo Chris returns to Tennessee as a volunteer.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival 2018 lineup
Bonnaroo 2018 lineup

The 2018 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival lived up to its mantra of radiating positivity and a commitment to providing some damn good music. The crowd was more robust than 2017 but not nearly overwhelming. And most importantly, the crowd was chill. The weather was gorgeous aside from the small rainstorm on Sunday morning. But it made for a nice moment, drinking coffee with the team, avoiding the occasional rain drops coming through the tent seams.

I was fortunate to, once again, be a part of the volunteer team representing disaster relief charity, ShelterBox, at Bonnaroo. After last year's solo expedition, it was nice to be onsite with a team of do-gooders who are also professional level campers. A huge thank you the festival, specifically the Planet Roo staff, for curating such an inspirational space every year. It is filled with organizations doing profound work in areas of mental health, the environment, civic mobilization, children's education, and so much more.

ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity who delivers emergency shelter to families displaced by disaster and conflict. A critical part of the organization's success is their volunteer network, which I joined in 2013. This year, the festival team consisted of six members: Brian, David, Hannah, LN, Ron, and myself. We came from all over the country, the closest being in Nashville, the furthest being California, and there's me driving up from Florida.


Prologue: Tuesday, June 5

Up for an early start and the long ride up through Florida and into Tennessee.

This pilgrimage to the festival is an integral part of the experience for me. The scenery stays roughly the same. The cookie cutter patterns of Florida, followed by rural Georgia and a lousy selection of terrestrial radio stations, until you get to greater Atlanta, and holy sweet moses, watch out for the insane drivers. I usually take the bypass and even THAT is sketchy. Pass the city and into the green Georgia hills which give way to the mountains and valleys of Tennessee. And the Central Time Zone.

Bonnaroo back road
Volunteers know this road. 

I find my squad. We get our paperwork sorted out, get our wristbands and stop at the grocery store for some bacon. The volunteer team officially arrives at the festival and sets-up camp.


Wednesday, June 6
High 86 / Low 53

The team is up early making breakfast. We have different kinds of coffee including a Turkish blend that is as delicious as it is caffeinated. It's a bit muddy and takes a little extra effort to make but it's so good and so potent.

Into Centeroo we march. There are shuttles to take volunteers to and from the campground but it's a tradition to walk in on the first day. It's neat to see the hustle and bustle of the festival still under construction. There's a fire in the distance, churning out an impressive amount out of black smoke.

The ShelterBox Tent sets up easily and looks gorgeous. The spotless white dome stands out in the charity row, a unique identifier of the ShelterBox brand and an instant conversation starter. We take a new approach this year, adding a tented area behind the ShelterBox tent. This allows plenty of room to display equipment without making everyone feel crammed.

The team participated in the Planet Roo social and met the other volunteer crews working this year. We then ventured out into the campgrounds, first stopping at the #Coleman booth to score some free swag. We each got a tumbler and one team member scored a blackout tent. (Upon later investigation, it is actually super dark!) Then out into the wild and woolly beyond, hanging for a bit at the Roo Bus and ending back up in Centeroo to watch evening fall.

Smoke from a nearby industrial fire in Manchester, TN - June 2018
The 'Great Fire in the Distance' Bonnaroo 2018

ShelterBox volunteer team (5 of out of 6) at the #Coleman booth
ShelterBox volunteer team (5 of out of 6) at the #Coleman booth 

Roo Bus at Bonnaroo 2018
Roo Bus at Bonnaroo 2018

Bonnaroo Fountain 2018

Bonnaroo Arch 2018
Bonnaroo Arch 2018

Campsite discussions with snacks and finally ... it's bedtime.