Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival… Wow, I literally cannot express how amazing this festival was in words, especially for their first year. Starting at will call, the atmosphere of this festival was overwhelming and carried on throughout the festival until packing up and waving goodbye. Every single person was having an amazing time and the happiness spread like wildfire. If you are pondering a festival list for year do yourself a favor and add Okeechobee! You won’t regret it.
Having gone to festivals prior to Okeechobee, I automatically expected a long line getting through car check and campsite assignment, but to my surprise I was gladly proved wrong. My group, as well as everyone around us, got through the entrance no problem and were out of the car setting up camp within five minutes! The campsites were surrounded by giant Florida-native trees, which were quickly covered in ENOs, lights, and other festival campsite goodies. The atmosphere was unbeatable, not to mention the weather was perfect the entire time. Tons of space was provided for each campsite and everyone was engaging with neighbors, making new friends, almost immediately.
A unique characteristic about Sunshine Grove is that it was under construction to become a subdivision. When the plans fell through paved roads, gates and other “suburby” type features were left behind. Why is this super convenient for us campers? The paved roads resulted in minimal dust, cars were able to get in and out easily and the Pedi-Cabs were able to quickly transport people to and from the venue. Also, the roads provided a sort of map throughout the campsite, which really helped campers pinpoint where their site was.
Staff / Food
I have never been to a festival that has ever had a more energetic and helpful staff at hand. I mean my goodness… they were everywhere! Staff and volunteers kept the grounds clean, the lines short and the potties were oddly clean, stocked with TP the entire time! Security and Officers were dancing in the crowd, bar tenders were friendly and the attendees were having a good, safe time. Overall, the staff’s energy was radiating positivity throughout the entire festival and you could really see how much importance that held with the attendees having a good time!
The food was delicious. Okeechobee provided a diverse selection of food ranging from seafood to local organic treats. It was really awesome to see the Okeechobee locals there vending and enjoying themselves. Here’s a short list of what me and my group ate: Shrimp Po-Boys, Mac n’ Cheese Subs, Jambalaya, Pizza, BBQ, Coffee, Doughnuts and Stir Fry.
Overall, the music was amazing. The three main stages BE, HERE and NOW hosted glorious, spine-tingling, neck hair raising moments for each and every attendee. Everything from the sound system to the visuals were well equipped and well placed. I was a little nervous about possible sound bleeding prior to the festival, but there was never any issue with it! There was always plenty of space, bars and food near by and bathrooms conveniently located by every stage.
The Aquachobee Beach Stage was my personal favorite. Picture a beach, an amazing sunset, people dancing, awesome art installations, tons of space with amazing music taking over every inch of your mind and soul, that was Aquachobee Beach. It was almost a sort of hidden gem of the festival since the bigger, main acts were in the central part of the venue.
My favorite act of the entire weekend was Tom Morello. Tom, Rage Against the Machine’s guitarist, was added to the Okeechobee line up last minute. He performed in the POWOW! and rocked his own DJ set at Aquachobee Beach. His DJ set was one of the more unique performances I’ve heard. Something about mixing classic rock, 90’s hits and Trap really struck a mood and had people dancing the entire set. Alongside Tom, Kendrick Lamar did an amazing job winning the crowd over with his live band performance and thought provoking lyrics.
It’s difficult for me to stop writing or even talking about Okeechobee, but I will leave you with this. Okeechobee was a well put together festival. The camping, staff, food, music, facilities and attendees made Okeechobee one of the best weekends of my life. Prepare for next year because it is going to be even better and I honestly don’t know how that will be possible. Plan ahead, save up enough money, grab you friends and camping gear and get down to Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival in 2017!
I will see you there.
Written by guest FSG journalist, Rachel Petty!