‘Roonies – they eat in our restaurants, they stay in our hotels, and they buy supplies from our stores.
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival draws some 80,000 music lovers to the nearby town of Manchester, and at least part of that total travels through Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, stopping for beer, gas, food and other extras.
One festival-goer said she spends an average of $200 preparing for the three-day festival.
“We bring most of the food ourselves because the food there is so expensive,” 25-year-old Danyalle McMinn said.
“We also buy lots of ice. And this year, I’m going to fill a whole cooler with bags of ice because down there, bags of ice are $5 and $10. If you don’t pack stuff yourself, you will end up spending a lot of money (at Bonaroo).”
All their spending translates into dollars for the community, according to Wendy Bryant, a spokeswoman for the Convention & Visitors Bureau with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.
While the group hasn’t conducted a study to determine exact number of tax dollars generated, Bryant says Bonnaroo has an estimated $2 million impact on the county.
A 2005 study conducted by the MTSU Business and Economic Research Center determined the economic impact of the festival on Middle Tennessee rings up to $22 million. Obviously, Coffee County, where the festival is held, reaps most of the financial rewards, but Rutherford County does see some of the spillover.
Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center is booked solid during the five days surrounding the music festival, says marketing director Becky Vealy.
“We always sell out over that time period,” she said. “We house a lot of the production part of (Bonnaroo) – its artists and staff and the folks who put it on. Beyond the production folks, it’s usually the people that are attending it.”
The surge in visitors helps the hotel during a time when the convention business is slow, Vealy added.
“We’re always looking for those types of special events, especially on the weekends,” she said.
In order to prepare for the three-day music fest, ‘Roonies also stop by liquor stores like Stones River Total Beverages to stock up for the trip.
“We do get some business from that,” co-owner Mannish Patel said.
“The biggest impact was the first year it was here. I guess it was overwhelming; fans and people of Bonnaroo didn’t know where to go and what to do, but I think people are more prepared now. We still get customers, but it’s nothing like the first year.”
Customers come from all over the globe, he says, from Japan to California to Wisconsin.
Bonnaroo has put Murfreesboro on the music festival map and additional dollars into the community.
“My guess would be that the numbers have increased because (Bonaroo’s) popularity has gone up,” Chamber president Paul Latture said. “It has gained national notoriety, and people continue to come out here for that.”
Bonnaroo by the Numbers
80,000 attendees every year
The No.1 biggest music festival in North America by attendance & acerage
Attendees from all 50 states & 28
More than 750 acres of festival grounds
6th largest population in Tennessee
during the festival
$1,440 average spent at Bonnaroo by each attendee
More than 80 percent of U.S. population lives within a one-day drive
900 metrictons of carbon generated & offset in 2010
$20 million generated for Coffee County annually
More than 150 Performers across 12 stages
More than 20 nonprofit partners on site