It may be hard to imagine Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, Robert Plant and you standing around in the woods and fields of Nowhere, Florida, but the men behind the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival can see it very clearly. They have since the first day they strolled the remote 800 acres of Sunshine Grove, about 10 miles north of the festival’s namesake lake.
"This is the greatest music festival site we have ever seen," said Paul Peck, speaking for his partners in the company producing the event, SoundSlinger. Consider that one partner is Jim Tobin, who got his start with Phish and has helped manage and organize such iconic music gatherings as Bonnaroo, Coachella, Hangout, Kokua in Hawaii and the Governor’s Ball in New York.
There are many physical and logistical reasons that the festival will take place in Sunshine Grove March 3-6, but what is likely to impress visitors most is its pristine beauty. Once a residential developer’s dream (dashed by the economy a decade ago just after six miles of roadway were paved), Sunshine Grove has been resculpted for the event, with beautifully maintained clearings for the three main stages separated by forests of old, moss-shrouded oaks and neatly trimmed palms through which trails lead to shady campsites, a sandy beach and a remote clearing called Jungle 51, where all-night electronic dance parties are scheduled.
SoundSlinger has spent more than two years preparing the site for an expected 30,000 visitors, including the drilling of five wells for showers.
"Now, we really can’t wait for people to see it," Peck said.