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Published: 2005/04/21

Set-Up Time and Just Who Created Bonnaroo Anyhow?

How long does it take to set up for Bonnaroo, and when does planning start?

Producing a festival as fun as Bonnaroo is a big job, and planning runs virtually year round. After cleanup and a brief break, we have a big staff meeting in Manchester to recap that year's event. Then, in the fall, we have another meeting to begin solidifying plans for the next Bonnaroo. At another meeting in February, we assess progress and make sure we are on track. A final pre-festival meeting in Aprilwith about 50 department heads presentties in loose ends and jumpstarts the festival season. That's when we all start getting really excited.

We arrive on site about one month in advance of the festival (this year it's May 10). On-site staff begins with a few key operations directors and builds to an event weekend staff of over 4000 people. First, we prepare the grounds and get utility systems in place such as generators, water supply, and office trailers. As Bonnaroo weekend grows near, we set up stages (this takes about one week) and tents (about two weeks), and fine tune logistical systems like traffic flow, parking, and camping. By the time the first fans arrive at our gates, we're ready for action. Soon, Bonnaroo is a bustling mini-city and the site of the summer's best weekend.

Who created Bonnaroo?

It all started when our two independent music companies, Superfly Productions and AC Entertainment, joined forces in 2001 to create an event that would satisfy an exploding demand for a national music festival. We are live music fans ourselves, so we knew that people like us would love a camping-and-music blowout that brought together fans and musicians from all over the country.

So who are we? Superfly, founded in 1997, is the New Orleans-based music company that created the Superfly during Jazzfest concert series and the SuperJam series, among other concerts and events. Because of the growing response to their events, and their own love of music, Superfly's principles knew that there was a large audience who wanted to travel to exceptional live music events. The idea for a new event started to materialize when the guys from Superfly met AC Entertainment's Ashley Capps in the spring of 2001. Ashley had been in the music business since the early 80s, and started AC in 1991. Producing such regional events as Hot Summer Nights and Mountain Oasis, Capps quickly became a concert industry magnate. Immediately recognizing that they had similar goals, their two companies began discussing a multiple-band event for the summer of 2001. But there was too little time to create and produce an event of the caliber they wanted, so the idea was shelved. By early 2002, the inaugural Bonnaroo, even better and grander than the event conceived the year before, was in the making.

Today, Bonnaroo is still owned and run by the same two independent music companies that founded it. We're proud of the community we've created, and we intend to keep it strong for years to come.

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