Enter the Portal and Discover the Wonders of Okeechobee

written by Connor McAuliffe

photos by Don Idio

Introduction – Down in the dirty south reigns the beautiful area of Okeechobee, Florida.  The fresh spring weather made the entire festival a perfect setting to kick off festival season in the southeast.  A vast range of great music and a diverse crowd made the festival a memorable one.  With a stacked lineup consisting of different types of artists ranging from EDM to jam bands, Okeechobee did not disappoint for its second year.  With high expectations, Okeechobee was nothing less than spectacular and is now my current favorite festival!

Music genre – Future Funk, Future Bass, Dubstep, Trap, Rap, R&B, Jam Bands, Indie, Alternative

Camping: Yes: Car/Tent Camping, RV Camping

Capacity: Large (40k-50k attendees)

Crowd type:  College Students/Frat Bros, Kandi Kids, Hipsters

Water stations: Yes

For The First Timers – It is wise for first time camping festival attendees to go with a group who has been to camping festivals before, mainly because they will know the necessities to bring for your campsite.  The best way to get to Okeechobee is by driving, as the closest airport is located in Orlando that is about an hour and a half away.  The venue itself is located off of State Highway 70 and is a one lane road, so be prepared to wait in some traffic when arriving at and leaving the festival.  The campgrounds are pretty big, so be prepared to walk a good bit (definitely bring comfortable walking shoes!).  The weather was surprisingly enjoyable during the day, but got a tad chilly at night.  I always check the weather report before the festival to make sure I pack appropriately for my few days living out of a tent.

Standout Food – From grilled cheeses, jambalaya, jalapeno corndogs, and the Amish Baking Company.  There was a wide variety of food to choose from inside the Grove and around the Chobeewobee Village.  To my surprise there happened to be a few local food vendors from my area at Okeechobee this year: Butt Hutt Smokehouse, Big Island Bowls, and the Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops.  My favorite food selection throughout the week was the fried gator inside the Grove.  There were even options for those who are on a vegan diet.

Musical Highlights – With a stacked lineup from the headliners to the undercard, there was an abundance of musical highlights from the festival.  While I was giddy to see Bassnectar and Pretty Lights again, there were a few other sets that really made this festival a memorable one.

  • GRiZ: My favorite artist. He made multiple appearances across the entire festival whether it was at Incendia for a secret DJ set back to back to back with 12th Planet and Snails or his short appearance in the PoWoW.  His scheduled set at the Be Stage was one of my favorites I have seen him perform.  He happened to play a new song that I believe no one has heard before that sounded very much like a GRiZ/Exmag collaboration (or how I like to describe the new song).
  • Flume: This Grammy award winning artist was everything I had hoped for. It had been nearly 2 years since I saw him live.  I was in even more shock that he brought his stage setup from his previous tour at the Be Stage.  He played a handful of his older music, plenty of popular songs off of Skin, and even a select few What So Not songs (Flume used to be a part of What So Not).
  • The combination of MZG and Dreamers Delight at Incendia on Thursday night was stellar. It was quite the experience to hear some funky tracks by MZG followed by an absolute heater of a DJ set by Dreamers Delight.  Awesome side note, I went to high school with the MZG duo for two years!  It was the right way to kick off the first night of Okeechobee!

Things To Do – Aside from all of the music and relaxing at your campsite, you can find yourself indulging on numerous activities throughout the day.  Some options were very unique.  Here are a few activities listed below:

  • Yoga at the Yogachobee Stage
  • Morning Meditation at the Healing Sanctuary Stage
  • Building Trash Totems at the Make Art Shrine
  • Watch eclectic movies at the Conscious Cinema
  • Catch some sun/swim in the lake at the man made beach by the Aquachobee Stage
  • Giggle at the Jive Joint in Chobeewobee Village
  • Explore the wide variety of vendors throughout Chobeewobee Village
  • Venture into Jungle 51 for late night booty shaking

VIP or Nah – VIP Campgrounds would be the main reason I would choose VIP.  They are conveniently located close to the Grove and have a general store and private air conditioned bathrooms and showers.  There were also exclusive viewing areas at all three stages that gave VIP attendees a little more room to boogie during sets.  The VIP area at the Be Stage included private bathrooms and some exclusive food vendors.  VIP attendees also had access to their own separate entrance once they arrived to the venue.  In my opinion, I wouldn’t get VIP unless you are absolutely sold on paying the extra cash for a close spot to the Grove.

Story Corner – Around 12pm on Friday by the Aquachobee stage, there was a portal printout strategically placed front and center at the Ferris wheel.  A couple made their way towards the area and stood on the portal.  Immediately after they took their spots, the Ferris wheel was slowly letting friends and family off and they would approach the couple with hugs and handed off flowers.  Once everyone was off the Ferris wheel, the guy proceeded to propose to his girlfriend.  Of course she said yes!  You can view the video here.  I thought this was a very well planned and thought out proposal that I have seen at any music festival.  Congrats to the newly engaged couple!

Check out the full photo gallery from Okeechobee here!

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