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Bonnaroo, in 10th Year, a Freedom-Giving Music Festival; Penn State Well Represented

by on June 08, 2011 7:40 AM

I've been counting down for almost a year.

For the past 10 years, Manchester, Tenn., has become the home for thousands upon thousands of hippies, classic rockers, hipsters, club kids, festival followers and just all-around music-lovers.

One weekend a year, a 700-acre farmland in Manchester turns into one of the largest cities in Tennessee to host the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, a four-day summer event filled with almost 200 different acts on a yearly basis.

I attended Bonnaroo for the first time last year, and to put it bluntly: It's life changing.

Now it's my second time around, but this time, it's the 10th anniversary of Bonnaroo and general-admission tickets are already sold out. Bonnaroo is infamous for surprises, and since it will be celebrating its anniversary, anything goes. Oh, and this time, I'm taking a whole new look at the festival.

This year, I will attend Bonnaroo -- which begins Thursday -- as press, representing both as well as its partnered site, I've met countless people around campus and at parties who recognize the infinity circles tattooed on my right bicep, automatically exclaiming; "You went to Bonnaroo, too!?"

Students at Penn State are no strangers to the music festival, but for many, it's only a familiarity, not an experience. Attendees of Bonnaroo are everywhere; you just have to find them. After hearing a detailed account of their memories, you'll have your ticket ordered for next year before you go to bed that night.

Penn State is rolling squad-deep this year onto the Tennessee farmlands. Five-or-so cars, 800 miles and a little more than a dozen students and recent alumni are making the journey to the 2011 Bonnaroo music festival, which will culminate Sunday night with the concert finale.

Whether you're backpacking and hitching a ride from State, or packing your closest friends into your mom's van, Penn State is going to represent at this festival. We'll provide a detailed account of the journey there and back and, of course, everything in between.

The students headed down are all on a mission for one thing: freedom. Bonnaroo means absolute liberation, where once you enter the grounds, no worries are necessary. It doesn't matter how old you are, what color your skin is, how many tattoos you have or even how long your dreadlocks are; Bonnaroo is about a community where everyone is accepted.

There will be old-heads hoping to catch a glimpse of Robert Plant strolling with the headbangers getting ready to rock for Opeth. Bonnaroo isn't life-changing because people are nice, but because it's your family and you know they are all here for the same reason: to be free.

Freedom at the festival can mean anything to lack of clothes to lack of order. In the festival grounds, everyone takes care of one another as if they were your best friends because, well, everyone there just wants to have a good time, enjoy the week and make sure everyone else does the same. That's ideal freedom.

In our coverage, you'll get to see the music festival from your fellow students, status updates and, of course, concert reviews.

We'd love suggestions on what artists you'd like us to check out, review or recap. This four-day event is not a sprint; it's a leisurely stroll with 80,000 of your new-found friends. You may not quite know why a music festival can prove to be such a life-altering experience, but neither did I -- until I gave it a shot. So now it's time for these Penn State students to see how it changes them.

Are you headed down, too? We'd love to know who else from Happy Valley will be making the journey south; just don't expect to hear many "We are!"s.

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Marcus Correll is a Penn State journalism student, an Onward State writer and a summer intern. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] His Twitter handle is @marcuscorrell.
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