The Campers' Guide to Okeechobee Fest

Kendrick Lamar: One of many reasons to make the drive to Okeechobee.
Kendrick Lamar: One of many reasons to make the drive to Okeechobee.
Courtesy of Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival

It's a bright Sunday morning in Sunshine Grove as your fellow campers begin to stir, and apart from the fact that your shoulders are red and itchy and your shoes crusted over and soggy from days of trudging through mud, it's glorious!

After breakfast, three hearty, lukewarm PBRs that for the most part fail to restore your will to live, you excuse yourself for the bathrooms. Finally having snaked your way through the 30-minute line, you arrive at a festering port-o-potty only to discover the absolute worst: no toilet paper.

It's a gory scene but one that frequent camping festivalgoers are all too familiar with. Three nights of sleeping, eating, cleaning, pooping, and partying in densely populated open space is daunting no matter how experienced a camper you are. But even if you've never been to a camping fest before, don't panic. We've distilled our years of experience into the perfect how-to guide to ensure no raver, hippie, basshead, or youngster at heart misses a beat. Follow these instructions exactly and it'll be smooth-sailing camping out at this weekend's inaugural Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival.

What to expect: Very little sleep. There's magic in the air and music all around you, and when the sun goes down, festivals come to life. Don't expect to sleep in either. The sun will warm your tent to a comfortable 150 degrees by 10 a.m., and you'll sweat yourself out of that beast – though not out of your hangover. The peeps in the tent next door will also blare their awful music at only the most inopportune moments. Resist the urge to kill them. Speak with them kindly, as if they're not idiots. And hey, if they don't respect that, just blast your tunes louder.

In all honesty, though, people at music festivals are usually pretty chill. Many people make lifelong friends on the green, and your neighbors may end up being lifesavers if you find yourself in need of beer or a poncho or tampons. Introduce yourself to strangers! Dance with the overzealous person at the main stage. Live this shit to the fullest, but don't be stupid. The rules of everyday still life apply. Don't take open drinks or strange drugs from strangers. Don't leave your valuables in the open. It's all peace, love, unity, and respect until someone's laptop disappears. Better yet, leave all unnecessary shit at home and bring nothing but your love of music and positive vibes.

Pack the essentials: You cannot rely on festival custodians to keep up with demand. Pack a few rolls of your own, or better yet, bring a pack and barter with your neighbors for things like water, beer, bacon, and access to those handy portable shower things.

The only substance as important as ample TP is a high-SPF sunscreen. (OK, ibuprofen, condoms, and rain boots are up there too.) You may think you tan beautifully, but even the melanin-endowed need protection from three full days of UV beating. Chances are you'll be inebriated by noon, so be sure to lather first thing each morning. Pack a cheap pair of sunglasses (you will probably lose them), and dear Lord, wear a hat. If you do get a burn, keep aloe in your cooler. It will soothe the skin and feel delightfully icy on that red devil.

Pack food intelligently. Not everyone is a grill master, and foods that keep easily and taste great are key. Think apples, oranges, granola, simple sandwiches, overnight oats, jerky, and energy bars. The good thing about camping fests is you can always go back to your tent for a snack.

Tips and tricks: Here's where we blow your mind with simple hacks that'll take your fest game to the next level. Pack sandwich baggies for your phone. When it rains, you're safe, and it's thin and transparent enough to use a touch screen and take that epic selfie. You can also pack your makeup in a baggy and keep it in the cooler so it doesn't melt.

Buy a reusable water bottle with a filter. Everything becomes a water source, and staying hydrated should be priority. Pack baby powder so you don't chafe yourself useless in the first 12 hours. Dress for the bathroom, as in, don't wear clothes that will be hard to take off in a port-a-potty. Wet wipes aren't a shower, but they're a great alternative to smelling like donkey butt all festival.

Use the buddy system, and know your emergency tents. Never worry about getting in trouble by getting someone medical attention. Have a designated meeting place at designated times. Come with a premarked schedule so you don't miss a thing. Leave your inhibitions at home, your cares to the wind, and get ready for the time of your life. This is going to be good.

Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival

With Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, Bassnectar, and others. Friday, March 4, to Sunday, March 6, at Sunshine Grove, 12517 NE 91st Ave., Okeechobee. Three-day advance passes start at $269.50. Visit okeechobeefest.com.


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