Eric Anthony Rodriguez

Eric Anthony Rodriguez

The coronavirus’s spread into Florida did not stop several thousand music lovers from coming together in the small town of Okeechobee for a music festival this past weekend. Festival goers have always worn masks and scarves to keep the dust out of their noses and to disguise their identity. We will soon find out if this is also an effective method for avoiding this virus.

It was my first time attending a festival in Okeechobee and it would be impossible not to compare the venue and the experience to events at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Entering the festival grounds was extremely chaotic. We had paid for a camping spot with power and were given a large sticker to put on our windshield that indicated this. We entered the “camping” entrance and were directed along a road with everyone else. After a short time we were told that we were in the wrong place and had to turn around, the only problem was the road we were on was a one-way road. The traffic was parted, and we were directed back out to another entrance. After waiting through yet another group of cars and campers checking in, we thought we were heading the right way. We we directed to a large RV parking spot. Before pulling in I asked the person directing us if these spots had power. She said yes. It did not take long to figure out that there was no place to plug in nearby. She apologized and said we should have been told to turn in before we arrived to her. We were finally directed into a spot with other RVs who had paid for power about an hour and a half after first arriving at the venue.

Musical highlights of the weekend included seeing Rufus Du Sol, Bassnectar, Tipper, Elohim and CharlestheFirst, all of whom I have seen perform before at the SOS Music Park. I also enjoyed seeing Durante, Crooked Colours, Moon Boots, Sublime With Rome, Hippie Sabotage and Glass Animals for the first time. I also got to hear some very skilled DJs play in the Jungle 51 area, Aquachobee and Incendia. It was impossible to see all of the various artists playing at all of the various stages and venues much less participate in all of the scheduled activities away from the music areas at the Okeechobee Music Festival. Okeechobee definitely had more musical acts and more activities than anything at the Spirit of the Suwannee, but you have to wonder what point there is to having way more going on than you could possibly ever experience.

One frustrating aspect of living at Okeechobee was the lack of water in the campground. Lugging water from the water dispensing areas back to camp was not fun. People who wanted to shower had to pay $8 for each one. I had a camp shower that provided a lukewarm cleaning under a slow stream of water each day. The money saved was used for expensive food and drinks in the venue. On the way back to North Florida I was dreaming of a proper shower and came to the realization that there really is no place like home.

Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at miamistyle8@gmail.com.

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