Entering the Portal at Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival 2017
Nestled in the remote and seemingly desolate pastures of South Florida, more than 35,000 festival-goers set up camp for the second year of Soundslinger’s Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival.
The four-day festival, which ran from March 3 through 5, fostered a long weekend full of workshops, live music, art and creativity.
The festival featured notable acts like GriZ, Logic, Mac Demarco, Snails, Flume, Bassnectar, Kings of Leon, Pretty Lights, The Lumineers, Waka Flocka Flame and Wiz Khalifa just to name a few.
Gainesville was represented at the festival, with performances by our very own, locally-based rock band The Delta Troubadours and by Fae Nageon de Lestang of Flat Land, performing her solo work as Animal Prince.
The lineup had a sound for every ear, of every genre and at any time of the day. Acts were scheduled back-to-back, keeping the momentum of the festival going until its final day.
For Floridians itching to attend a larger music festival but weary of the travel, Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival serves as the much needed alternative to festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Okeechobee fills a longstanding void in music and festival culture in the Sunshine State.
While the festival has only just concluded its second year, Soundslinger puts on a well-organized event, working out little quirks and adding new perks as the festival has matured.
The three stages, “Be,” “Here” and “Now,” were walking distance from the campsites— each named after a different texting acronym. The campsites seemed to stretch for miles, each campsite uniquely customized and decorated.
Bordered by specialty, eclectic food trucks, the stages were situated close enough to switch shows easily while avoiding any sound interference from neighboring stages.
Festival-goers embraced the temporary disconnect from their day-to-day— most ditching the cellphones and savoring the music sans the tiny screen.
Food trucks catered to every craving, peddling goods like Hyppo ice pops, Big Island Bowl’s poke or acai bowls, espresso, Amish doughnuts, grilled cheese, seafood and tacos.
For those looking for a site to lounge and take a break from the tunes, Chobeewobee Village was decorated by artisanal crafts and merchandise, creative workshops, body marbling and art installations. An array of crystal jewelry, vibrant tapestries, intricate woodwork and handmade blankets all provided a unique, little something to remember the festival by.
To immerse yourself in the experience further and truly disconnect, Yogachobee offered morning schedules of yoga classes, meditation and massages.
Jungle 51, which played techno, electronic music from sundown to sunrise, kept the party going for even the latest of night owls. Creative, neon light arrangements and installations illuminated the trees cluttered with rows of hammocks, making the setup of the festival a live art installation itself. The cosmic atmosphere showed a fine-tuned attention to design and production.
Bassnectar boasted the largest turnout during his Saturday night set as a second-year headliner and veteran to Okeechobee, with Flume laying claim to the second largest crowd during his Friday night show.
As Okeechobee closed out its second year, the festival proved once again to be what is becoming one of the fastest growing and most diverse music festivals in the country.
And while I reluctantly left the portal, I did so knowing that each year will only get better as this young festival continues to share its creativity and energy with the festival fans of the Sunshine State.
(Feature photo courtesy of Andrew Jorgensen)