The Modern Hippie

by Brooke Utter

Our parents and even grandparents might have gone to music festivals such as Woodstock. Music festivals have come a long way since then, they are now wellpolished, glitzy and spectacular. Most have milliondollar sound systems and state-of-the-art light sets. They even have their own security teams. The massive productions are well organized. Many of these festivals go on for three days and treat their participants to a totally immersing experience with multiple stages that are transformed into mythical places. Some concertgoers stay in hotels, while others choose to camp onsite. Most of the concert-goers go through great lengths and expenses with their wardrobe, wearing the most eye-popping outfits and costumes. Glastobury Festival is a five-day festival held in June in England, with over 135,000 attending. A mere 250,000 attended the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival held in California. Electric Daisy Carnival will be held this November in Orlando, but there are far too many others to even list.

I was able to attend the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival located in Okeechobee, Florida. My boyfriend, Kai Walker, and I joined close to 30,000 people as we traveled just a few hours south to Lake Okeechobee, where we soon met participants from as far as Brazil, to those who lived right here in Gainesville. Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival is a unique and immersive camping experience that includes music of all genres such as EDM, rap, indie, and live bands including top performers such as Bassnectar, Halsey, Travis Scott, and Arcade Fire. Not only does the festival provide a wide variety of music, they also put a major focus on the arts.

The venue was divided into different sections with live art, interactive art installations and health and wellness workshops. As we entered ‘The Portal’, a nickname that had caught on during their first year back in 2016, we were taken back by how organized and friendly the staff were and how quickly we were able to get our campsite set up. By sundown, we walked to the Moonlight Oasis section where we found Chobeewobee Village that had a plethora of one of a kind crafts, jewelry, and clothing for sale. Aquachobee was also inside the Moonlight Oasis where we were surrounded by the lake that had multiple stages including food, activities, a Ferris wheel and a special Full Moon Set at the Aquachobee stage.

Our first morning was spent at Yogachobee, which is a tent area dedicated to yoga. Here we joined a diverse group of people of all ages for early yoga. After lunch and swimming in the lake, Okeechobee announced another section of the festival would soon be opening called ‘The Grove’ – the home to their three main stages. Once inside the Grove, we found more food vendors, severing a vast variaty of organic, vegan and vegetarian meals, as well as more traditional food, such as hamburgers. There was art, including a life-size metal elephant that you could touch, as well as other cool, visual things.

The rest of the weekend, we explored the many different areas Okeechobee had to offer. We discovered our favorite spot, Jungle 51, that was hidden in the trees. Jungle 51 went on all through the night until sunrise, featuring silent discos and music like techno, bass and trance.

Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival took place in March over four days.

There are no age restrictions, which make it nice to see people of all ages enjoying the same experience. Even my mom has attended EDC with me. The Moonlight Oasis was open 24 hours and the Grove was open from 2pm-1am every night. We couldn’t have asked for better weather with a consistent high of eighty and a low of mid-fifties through the weekend. During the day, a nice breeze kept us cool, and during the night, we kept warm with the trees catching the wind and our feet moving to the music all night long. What makes Okeechobee so special and unique is how they are able to make a festival filled with thousands of people from all different backgrounds feel so at home and connected through the power of music and art. With Okeechobee just being a few hours south of Gainesville, Kai and I were happy to run into our friends from Gainesville – we even ran into a Gainesville restaurant! Big Island Bowls had made the drive to Okeechobee to sell their most popular items, acai and sushi bowls. Yum! Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival is a four-day retreat with great music, art, food, and most importantly, unforgettable people. Over the years and from attending many festivals, I have met so many wonderful people from all over the world and have continued to keep in touch with them. It has been an amazing experience that I hope you will take advantage of. Okeechobee even offers a loyalty program that allows returning guests special viewing access at the main stages and discounted ticket prices.

For more information on pricing and past lineups, you can visit their website https://okeechobeefest.com/. We can’t wait to go back next year and see what Okeechobee’s team puts together for another once in a lifetime experience.