Updated: Jun 14, 2022
Hop on the Roo Bus. Destination: Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The Roo Bus has become a symbol of fun, joy, kindness and love. The blue bus serves as a canvas, a room and a stage. Welcoming Bonnaroovians, the Roo Bus inspires connections, creates unforgettable moments, and preserves memories. Owners Sharla and Daniel Horton, who live just outside of Huntsville, Alabama, share a passion for impacting the world in a positive way. They love to find new friends, to sing, to dance. Their love story began with a shared passion for music.
“We're originally from Russellville, Alabama, a really rural area just south of the Shoals,” Daniel said. “Sharla was one year ahead of me in our high school, and I remember first being really interested in her when she bought an Aerosmith poster at a vintage store while we were both on the same school field trip.”
Sharla and Daniel have always loved music and the whole culture around it.
“For example, ‘Almost Famous’ is one of our favorite movies and we probably watch it two or three times a year,” Daniel said. “Going to Bonnaroo and becoming the caretakers of the Roo Bus sort of became inevitable.”
Sharla and Daniel purchased the colorful vehicle – a school bus adorned with psychedelic decorations – in 2017, when it had already gained fame and recognition.
The original owners and creators of the bus were Bob and Tammy Wilson.
“Their place was just a few miles away from the Bonnaroo Farm,” Daniel said. “We had parked our old RV next to them at a Bonnaroo years ago, and we became great friends. When they decided to pass the bus along, Sharla put in an offer for it. Ever since we have done our best to keep the tradition going. That was the biggest reason we wanted to have it – we saw what it meant to a lot of people. Many regular Roo attendees would come to add their signatures year after year. Bonnaroo is the best modern equivalent to something like Woodstock, and we've been thrilled to be part of that history and tradition.”
The Roo Bus is special to Sharla, Daniel and many others because it's an ever-evolving art piece and serves as a museum of Bonnaroo.
“In addition to being a party bus with room to sleep in, it houses what's basically a museum of Bonnaroo inside, with tons of relics and keepsakes from the whole history of the festival,” Daniel said. “One of the coolest things inside the bus is a laminated table with some tickets from some of the first Bonnaroo events. We've also kept a lot of the keepsakes (Bonnaroo organizers) give away every year, as well as art that a lot of other Bonnaroovians have donated.”
The exterior of the bus provides a visual feast for music lovers.
“The outside is really special as well, as it has thousands of signatures, jokes, and pieces of art from just about everyone who has ever visited,” Daniel said. “Even Chance the Rapper and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers have signed it.”
The Roo Bus has also hosted various events, including a wedding and a concert from Nashville band *repeat repeat, one of Sharla’s favorite experiences.
"My favorite Bonnaroo memory is definitely our infamous Wednesday bus party with the band *repeat repeat in 2018,” Sharla said. “Seeing hundreds of Roovians show up was an incredible experience I’ll never forget."