Bonnaroo, a festival of music and arts-and, for some, psychedelic experimentation-begins tomorrow in Manchester, Tennessee. Attendees will have the chance to see U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, and The Weekend, among other acts. They will likely also see a significant police presence.
Precedent serves. At Bonnaroo, which was first held in 2002, has become increasingly popular-as it has become a cultural touchstone-it has also dealt with an increasing number of drug overdoses and auto accidents. As a result, law enforcement officers have made an annual tradition out of patrolling the roads to and from the festival, and making drug stings inside the gates.
Last year was a banner year for drug arrests
Beyond making dozens of arrests, law enforcement undertook what they called a "significant drug operation" in 2016. Specifically, the bust yielded 60 tabs of acid, 120 grams of ketamine, 144 grams of (alleged) cocaine, 202 jars of THC oil, and more than two pounds of marijuana. This is, simply put, enough material to keep several party-goers partying for the entirety of the festival.
In addition, police handed out 300 citations for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and illegal possession of drugs including molly, ecstasy and LSD. According to the spokesman for the Coffee County Sheriff's Department, these are "all typical cases connected to Bonnaroo." Similarly, 2015 saw 76 arrests and hundreds of citations, while in 2014 there were 60 arrests as well as citations.
Staying safe on the road to (and from) Manchester
Likewise, every festival brings with it a fair share of auto accidents - some of them fatal. A 22-year-old attendee was killed last year when a truck hit him as he tried to cross the street, by foot, just outside the concert grounds. A truck crash in 2013 left two dead and five with significant injuries. A rash of other accidents surrounding the festival have led area police to step up enforcement. They are quick to pull cars over, and apt to administer tests for DUI/DWI.
As such, it's important for concertgoers to know how to respond. If there's been a serious accident, it's crucial to seek medical and legal help immediately. If running into trouble with the law, it's vital to know one's rights. Staying safe and protected is paramount, and so it helps to have a contingency plan before trouble arises.