Thursday, March 23, 2023

MTSU Photographers React to Bonnaroo Cancellation 


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Story by Destiny Mizell / Contributing Writer

Photo via Jonathan Trundle / MTSU Photography Professor

After many events were postponed due to COVID-19, Bonnaroo was canceled due to Hurricane Ida’s effects on the music festival’s grounds.

Bonnaroo’s dates were set as Sept. 2 through Sept. 5; However, the torrential rains flooded the grounds. 

Before the closing, the festival realized that the whole Bonnaroo experience wouldn’t be provided due to the weather conditions. In addition, the camping capacity was reduced because of the flooding. As a result of these changes, the festival offered refunds “across all ticket and accommodation types.”

Then, on Aug. 31, Bonnaroo released their social media statement on how they would deal with the continuous flooding: 

“We are absolutely heartbroken to announce that we must cancel Bonnaroo…Mother Nature has dealt us a tremendous amount of rain over the past 24 hours, and we have run out of options to try to make the event happen safely and in a way that lives up to the Bonnaroo experience…WE WILL SEE YOU ON THE FARM IN JUNE 2022! All tickets purchased through Front Gate Tickets will be refunded in as little as 30 days to the original method of payment.”

Middle Tennessee State University initially intended to have students and professors involved with Bonnaroo media under press passes.

Jonathan Trundle, a photography professor, planned to take himself and two students, Keely Ginder and Justine Clifford, to the farm to get photo coverage of the event and material for their portfolios. 

“This would’ve been the fifth year to take two students where we work at the media tent along with the journalism program and try to generate images that the school could use for marketing- so it gives them a little PR work. It also gives the students an opportunity to get photo tent access, so they can be in the front of the stage,” Trundle explained. “It allows students to get into the mud and the muck and the blood and the beer and get up there with the photographers from The Rolling Stone and other newspapers and have access to that kind of experience.” 

It was a disappointing reality, but Trundle went on to share. “They are certainly doing the best that they can with everyone’s best interest in mind. Safety first or last…it’s the most important thing. I think that it is the best decision that they could’ve made… It’s not the fact that everything was flooded, but it’s what 20,000 people could do to that ground. Could you imagine the sanitary conditions? And if the cars and trucks were stuck in the mud?”

Optimistically, Trundle expressed, “It’s unfortunate, but maybe the silver lining to all of this is that we channel all of this energy into the next year’s festival and make it even better than it possibly could have been.”

Ginder, a senior at MTSU and photography major that was supposed to go, was really looking forward to getting the Bonnaroo experience and photo opportunities.  

“My plan for Bonnaroo was to photograph a bunch of different artists so I could get more concert images in my portfolio. I’ve photographed in the pit at music festivals before, but I was extra excited for Bonnaroo because some really big name artists would look pretty impressive in my portfolio,” Ginder explained. “I would’ve preferred another postponing. I was really excited for it! I wouldn’t have cared to wait a few more weeks for it.”

Let down yet planning ahead, Ginder shared, “Overall, I’m disappointed since this is my last semester, and I’m not going to have this opportunity again. But I’m incredibly thankful for Mr. Trundle for allowing me to even have the opportunity in the first place. But no worries, I’m already researching how to get press credentials for Bonnaroo 2022!”

Clifford, another senior and photography major at MTSU, was meant to go to Bonnaroo with Trundle and Ginder. She was prepared to have the unique music and art festival experience that MTSU offers for students. 

“My plans for Bonnaroo were to just enjoy it all. I’ve never been in the past but have heard fun stories which I wanted to capture on my camera, and of course, catch some bands I’ve been dying to see,” Clifford expressed. “Concert photography is always something I’ve been interested in and was super excited about that part of the experience, but sadly don’t get to do that now.”

Despite this, Clifford stated, “I think they made the right call with canceling as it would probably be like a swamp, just so muggy and hot down at the farm after all the rain. Also, with the amount of people and our current Covid spikes, I’m not too disappointed.”

Bonnaroo is already preparing for next year’s festival. Attendees, the press and those behind the festival can hope that next year everyone can get the full Bonnaroo experience in the best way that they can.

To contact News Editor Toriana Williams, email

For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News 

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