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Bonnaroo Music Fest Saddles Up Mounted Security Once More

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Bonnaroo Music Festival on June 11-13, held on a 600-acre farm in Manchester, TN, will have mounted security once again.

The troopers and horses that are members of the elite Alpha & Omega (A&O) Mounted Security Patrol concert cavalry figure prominently into the success of Bonnaroo. The officers on horseback have gone through extensive training to ride in the security patrol for the nation's largest music and camping festival.

"All the effort by A&O is directed to one aim — the protection of each and every Bonnaroo fan," said Frank Keller, founder and CEO of Alpha & Omega. "We work up-close-and-personal with concert-goers, riding through campgrounds, guiding vehicles to parking areas, and answering security calls."

For the third year, A&O will assemble the largest private cavalry ever gathered. Riders come from all walks of life. More than half are women. Many are ranchers and police officers. Some are mayors and sheriffs. The A&O Troopers will accomplish the work of 1,000 foot patrol persons and, along with others in the comprehensive security plan, will be charged with the safety of 90,000 concert-goers.

To fulfill this charge, A&O will transport 15,000 pounds of hay (1 ton per day), 14,000 gallons of water, 52,500 pounds of grain and all the equipment needed to house riders and horses for seven days. Their trooper movement rivals any road crew effort by a rock band. Troopers come from 11 states and will travel 45,000 miles to reach their camp adjacent to the festival site. Visitors to the spot may think they have stumbled back in time to a Wild West campsite.

Except that this campsite is equipped with the latest technology and communications equipment. Troopers are connected with Bonnaroo security and with each other by state-of-the-art radios. A command and control center is housed in the semi-trailer that doubles as transport for horses. A&O commanders work from an office in a specially-designed motor home equipped with computer, fax machine and high speed Internet access.

In their bright red shirts atop their horses, troopers can be easily spotted by fans. Many followers of bands like Phish, Dave Matthews, and The Dead know the Troopers and their horses by name. A&O has been part of the concert festival world since Woodstock '94. They encountered Pink Floyd at Woodstock, who referred them to Phish, and were invited to Phish's Clifford Ball in 1996. Since then, A&O Troopers have been a fixture at the nation's most popular music gatherings.

"Our Troopers are particularly good at interacting with the fans," Keller said. "Riders are trained in public relations as well as professional security measures; horses are selected and trained to handle crowds, rough terrain, fireworks and other sensory elements." –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen