Last weekend, I had an opportunity to attend Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival - March 4-6, 2016 located in Okeechobee, Florida by Lake Okeechobee. Here is a short review of my experience. As always, it was a pleasure to meet and interact with everyone, and I definitely met some people I shall keep in touch with and never forget.
Entrance: We arrived during the pre-party on Thursday and our entrance wait was almost non-existent. Those who got in Thursday night reported the same, while Friday arrivals did not wait too long either; the longest wait I heard of was two hours, which is very reasonable for a festival of over 30,000 people.
Venue: The venue appears to be a combination of what Electric Forest and Suwannee Hulaween look like. There is Spanish Moss trees in places, similar to Hulaween, and there is a Jungle Stage the entrance to which is reminiscent of Sherwood Forest. Camping is very much like Electric Forest, with a big field consuming the majority of campers. There is camping closer to the stage, even inside the venue, similar to Hulaween. There are 3 "main stages" (Be, There, and Now), and 3 side stages (Aquachobee Beach, Jungle 51, and Chobeewobee Village), with an additional Yoga Chobee area
Production: Production was great, and again, there is an attempt to emulate EF. There is a tent-covered pavilion where one can sit and enjoy the view of everything. There is also a fire spinners and hoopers area, which is accessed through a snowman-like tunnel. Also, huge props to Okee for having live music 24 hours a day, as Jungle 51 featured music from dusk to dawn, while Aquachobee Beach operated from dawn to dusk,
Music: Overall phenomenal. There was a wide variety to choose from. My favorite sets were ODESZA, Big Gigantic, Bassnectar, Ween, and Mumford and Sons. It was also a wonderful experience to see bands I normally would not have an opportunity to see live, such as Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Daryl Hall & John Oates. The Pow Wows (a combination of performers from different groups) added much flavor to music Saturday and Sunday night
Amenities: Okee, you really need to step this up. Even during the pre-party, and definitely beyond, half the hand-washing stations had no water at all; the ones that did mandated one to repeatedly pump a foot pedal to get any water flow going. Additionally, I hardly observed any hand sanitizer or soap on any of the stations I encountered. Additionally, the bathrooms seemed to be only cleaned once a day and were in rough shape at night time. Lastly, the venue could be more well-lit.
Crowd: Wide variety. There was definitely Fest heads, Bass heads, Festie newbies, and so on. Plenty of people I talked to said this was their first camping festival, and quite a few were here for Spring Break.
Security: It was strict inside the venue. Security was walking around with flashlights more often than usual. There was quite a few reports of arrests as well. There were rumors of drug dogs at the entrance on Thursday. Upon closer examination, it appears that if a security team member deemed a vehicle suspicious, the vehicle was to be searched by the police with drug dogs. There were rumors of an actual court and judge, along with a holding cell on the festival grounds, though we are skeptical about the validity of an immediate court session before the accused can consult with an attorney and such.
Exit: Extremely disorganized. There seemed to be only one line for over 30,000 people to exit and it got crammed. Additionally, cars were ditching each other, cutting each other off, driving the wrong way, etc just to get out of the venue and there was no organization whatsoever.
Conclusion: Okee was fun and definitely a festival I will look to attend in the future, especially if it was more organized in the subsequent editions. The weather was tremendous, and friends, both new and current added to the wonderful experience I had. Thank you all for making my Okee experience what it was and I cannot wait until our paths cross again in the future!
Written by Alexander Tsyganko