Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jun 2003
Source: Manchester Times (TN)
Copyright: Manchester Times 2003


Throughout the whole weekend, there were 93 citations written by local and 
state officers outside the sprawling venue. A little more than 80 were drug 
related. But it's common knowledge that more came into the festival than 
didn't. There has been the usual swing of local opinion that pings between 
pro and con (again, depending on who you talk to) about the existence of 
such an event.

Yes, there was some of the best rock and groove in the world going on down 
on Old Bushy Branch Road. Neil Young, The Dead, James Brown, Lucinda 
Williams. Yes, many of the folks attending Bonnaroo were kind, friendly and 

And yes, most were, as they say, "partaking." Critics who went to festival 
have an intelligent point from which they can speak. Those who didn't go 
have simply don't have that particular experience to contribute to any 
debate about the future of Bonnaroo in little, old Manchester.

Opinions are another story. Most agree that the estimated $7 million 
injection into the local economy (according to a study conducted through 
MTSU) is a really good thing.

But there are those who would argue that the money isn't worth the big 
hassle of the event or the element that it brings to a fairly quiet county 
of 46,000 in the aorta of the Bible Belt.

The phenomenon of bringing two wildly different cultures together is an 
experiment in social diversity that neither the promoters nor local backers 
could have imagined. Certainly a few of the artists performing at Bonnaroo 
had no real idea of the magnitude - if only symbolically - of last 
weekend's convergence of truly counter cultures. Sure, they said, it's a 
unique thing when a large musical event comes to a small town in the heartland.

But this was a huge Bonnaroo, not Littlepalooza, or even Woodstock's summer 
of love. It was a corporate event organized down to the last hackey sack 
and water bottle. It was planned to make money - hopefully for all 
involved. The psychadelic circus has gone, and the shock and awe of it all 
left Coffee County around midnight Sunday. It'll be interesting to see 
where this relationship goes now that the honeymoon is over.
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