Bonnaroo dates changed for 2021

The City of Manchester announced Friday a hearing will be held in April to discuss the annexation of the Bonnaroo property.

The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen will hold public hearings at 6:30 p.m., on April 6, or as soon thereafter as the Board’s business permits, at Manchester City Hall, 200 W. Fort St. to consider the Adoption of Plans of Service required by T.C.A. 6-51-102 preliminary to the annexation and the annexation of property owned by New Era Farms, LLC and New Era Farms II, LLC and portions of the New Bushy Branch Road, Powers Road, Campground Road, and Interstate 24 rights-of-way,” the notice read.

The meeting means are TBD at a later date. In accordance with Executive Order 65 and 71, the meeting may possibly be held via ZOOM at

Citizen comments cane be e-mail to before 4 p.m. the day of the meeting.

Alderman Bill Nickels is concerned with some of the conditions of an annex. He feels that the expense of brining the annual weekend festival might just out way the revenue.

Nickels said that a look at the last five years of Bonnaroo attendance has shown a decline in numbers, and with COVID-19 severely impacting large performances, tax revenues from the festival is a big unknown.

Nickels added that Bonnaroo wants the road widened as part of the annexation.

“The annexation is not really the thing,” Nickels said. “You have to pay attention to the whole thing. What the deal is, Bonnaroo wants the City of Manchester to pay for a widening of the road from Beans Creek (Winery) out to their property.”

Nickels said that there was a tone of ultimatum in the request.

“They claim that if we don’t do it, they’re not going to keep coming here. The annexation will not happen unless we promise the road,” Nickels said.

He shared a two-year old estimate for the road project would cost about $6.5 million, but the state would cover about half the expense.  

Nickels said there is a proposal circulating on the benefits of annexing Bonnaroo. He said that much of the report was compiled by Alderman Ryan French.

Nickels cautioned that “He’s basing all of his calculations on 80,000 attendees, which hasn’t happened five or 10 years. In 2019 there was a pretty good crowd but it wasn’t anywhere close to the record.”

According to Nickels, the temporary I-24 exit will not be opened or needed for the 2021 show. He said that Bonnaroo planners have a staggered admission plan to further reduce traffic lines at the gates.

“You have few attendees and a staggered arrival time, I do not understand why Bonnaroo is expecting the citizens of Manchester, the fast majority of whom have never set foot on that property, to fund a road widening project,” Nickels said.

“They are going to have one-night events that are going to bring in 40,000 people, but they haven’t done that in 20 years, what’s the magic all the sudden that they are going to start,” he said.  

Since the initial Bonnaroo of 2001, the festival has been located in the county. An earlier contract with the county expired in 2017.

Festival organizers hoped to sign a new contract before the end of 2017. But the talks faltered, and Axis Nation, LLC, conducting business as Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, and Coffee County signed an agreement regarding the 2018 festival in which festival organizers made a one-time donation of $205,000 to the county. According to the 2018 deal, Axis has also agreed, as promised, to continue to cover the preapproved costs associated with space and equipment rentals and those associated with police, medical, fire, traffic and public safety personnel provided by the county during the festival. The agreement was first negotiated in 2006 and was last signed on July 24, 2014 for a three-year period. The contract ends on June 30.

The Manchester Times has reached out to Alderman French and contacts for Bonnaroo for comment. This story will be updated online with their replies. Go to for all your breaking news.        

John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

Download the free Manchester Times mobile app at the app store. John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories.

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