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As Bonnaroo rolls into town this week and sets up camp for the 11th time, we find it hard to remember what life was like before the music festival started pumping 80,000 music and arts lovers into Manchester every June.
The late-night air was certainly a little quieter in 2001. Piggy banks, though, were probably a little lighter.
The benefits that come with Bonnaroo are perhaps more essential to local non-profits who use the festival to line their bank accounts with funds that can’t be raised selling candy bars and donuts.
But perhaps what is most compelling about Bonnaroo is not the money tree it provides some local businesses (some businesses actually suffer because the traffic nightmare of 2002 still haunts local resident’s dreams) or the music, but simply the fact that it is still here and operational.
One bad official or one bad ordinance passed could have changed a lot of things in the early stages. Local officials should get credit for making sure Bonnaroo stayed and is healthy.
The stain that was Itchycoo Park in the late 90’s left a lot of residents with a cynical taste to big events happening here. What was this Bonnaroo? What did it mean? Will it really last or is it another flop?
Those questions have been answered. Ten years have gone by and with the economy on the upswing there is no reason to believe this festival won’t return for years to come.