The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival — one of the largest outdoor concert events in the country — was honored by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau last month. On June 25, Bonnaroo, along with 10 other winners, was recognized for its achievements and positive impact on the state’s natural resources in an awards ceremony held in Nashville.
Bonnaroo earned one of two Pursuit of Excellence Awards given out, which recognize past award winners who continue to demonstrate a high level of environmental stewardship practices.
“The continued health of Tennessee’s air, land and water plays a critical role in keeping our communities strong and attractive for locating a business or raising a family,” Haslam said. “Recognizing the innovative efforts that help conserve and protect our natural resources is important, and (this) announcement shows that Tennesseans are committed to caring for our state in a way that affects today and future generations.”
For five days each year, 100,000 concertgoers descend on Manchester for the annual music and arts festival.
Bonnaroo was recognized in 2010 with a Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for its outstanding efforts to reduce waste produced at the festival.
In 2012, Bonnaroo’s organizers turned their focus to energy use, hiring Knoxville-based Sustainable Future to design and install a 50-kilowatt solar array. The array is expected to offset approximately 20 percent of Bonnaroo’s annual electric bill, while generating clean, renewable energy that is sent back to Duck River Utilities throughout the year.
The project was fully funded with voluntary attendee contributions, along with a modest $1 per ticket surcharge. Bonnaroo is the first major festival in the country to have a permanent and significant solar array, further demonstrating their commitment to environmental leadership and once again raising the bar for other festivals.
A panel of 28 judges representing agricultural, conservation, and environmental professionals evaluated more than 100 nominations and selected this year’s award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation and public education.
“The quality of our environment directly affects our quality of life, impacting how Tennesseans live, work and play,” added Martineau. “It’s important that we pause to recognize the people and organizations that work so hard to protect our environment, while teaching others about sustainability.”