With 80,000 music fans in town and thousands more here as various workers for the 12th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, security is a top priority for event organizers and local officials.
In the wake of April’s terror attacks at the Boston Marathon that left two dead, many maimed and hundreds injured, security at highly-attended events across the nation has been taken up a notch.
Bonnaroo is no exception. But Rick Farman with Superfly Presents emphasizes that security has a always been the first priority at the four-day festival.
“There are some new elements to our system that for security purposes we are not making public at this time,” said Farman, whose company, along with AC Entertainment, founded the festival in 2002.
“The safety and security of our patrons, artists and staff is always our first priority. We check and recheck our systems every year and make changes accordingly,” added Farman.
Farman touted car searches when patrons enter the grounds and bag checks when they enter Centeroo (the festivals main attraction area that includes all of the stages and tents) as the festivals top security measures.
“We are in an enclosed setting, and patrons generally stay on site for several days – that gives us a measure of security from the top,” explained Farman.
“We have always performed car searches as patrons enter the site as an important step in our security plan. We also have always conducted bag searches as patrons enter Centeroo .”
One security enhancement this year is a separate search line for anyone carrying a backpack.
“This will allow our search teams to be more focused,” stated Farman.
When cars enter the festival grounds they will either be searched by Bonnaroo security or deputies with the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department.
“Searches will be a little more intense this year,” said Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves. “Last year if traffic backed up they kind of gave way on the searches and rushed them in.”
Graves indicated the more extensive and thorough searches could cause more traffic congestion this year.
“Our officers will be looking for items other than drugs. They will be looking for items used to manufacture explosives,” stated Graves, adding that the department’s 23 reserve deputies would be assisting in the search process. “ People should expect a little longer wait this year … we will do the best we can.”
The festival will communicate security concerns and festival news with festival-goers through the Bonnaroo smartphone app, the bonnaroo.com website and the jumbotrons located on the two main stages – the “What” and “Which” stages. …
Continue reading the complete story in next week’s (June 12) special Bonnaroo edition of the Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and / or complete online edition.