The Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, taking place March 2-5 in the small town just north of the lake that shares its name, will feature music nearly around the clock.
But the experience will concern more than just music, as many of the festival's attendees are expected to spend the entire weekend camping on Okeechobee's 600-acre grounds. The festival will offer swimming, yoga and meditation workshops and art exhibitions.
A veteran of camping at festivals such as Camp Bisco, TomorrowWorld and MysteryLand, Talia J. Medina has learned how to live in a makeshift village among thousands of undersupplied, overtired and unwashed music fans. To make sure festivalgoers don't arrive unprepared, she has compiled a list of essential items, pro tips and all-around good ideas.
- Tent: Make sure you have all the pieces to your tent, and that you know how to set it up.
- Tarp or shower curtain: Put a tarp or shower curtain under your tent to prevent ground moisture from seeping into it. It also can serve as a welcome mat for your temporary home.
- Sleeping bag and pillow
- Canopy tent: Use it for sun protection while hanging out at your campsite. Hang battery-operated Christmas lights inside so you'll be able to see at night. Tapestries and flags can serve as makeshift walls, offering privacy and shade.
- Foldable tables and chairs: Beach chairs sit a little too low to the ground, but camping chairs sit higher, are more comfortable and are more compact than beach chairs when folded up. They cost about $10 at local supercenters. Foldable tables are nice, too, because they'll give you a place to eat or a hard surface on which to prepare goodies during the weekend.
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Cups/plates/plastic utensils
- Garbage bags: Get trash bags in two different colors to distinguish between recycling and waste. Picking up after yourself throughout the weekend will make cleaning up at the end of the festival go much easier and faster.
- A cooler with ice or dry ice (dry ice will last longer).
- Food: There will be vendors at Okeechobee, but festival food can be overpriced and greasy. To make sure you eat what you want, pack it. Clif bars, nuts and granola are filling, easy to pack and provide lots of energy. Bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I like to add sliced banana to mine for the potassium. Dried fruits are an easy snack, and apples and oranges usually survive the weekend. I like to buy individual snack packs because I don't want a lot of grimy hands touching my food.
- Water: Water will be available on the campgrounds, but you can never have too much. Freeze water jugs before heading to the festival. Your water will stay cold while cooling everything else in your cooler.
- Alcohol: If you're 21 or up and want to party, make sure your alcohol is in plastic bottles. Per car, you're allowed to bring two cases of beer, two boxes of wine and 1.75 liters of liquor.
- Backpack: Bring a backpack that can get dirty and can hold all your goods for the day. Once you leave your campsite, you might not return to it until after the headliners have played, so prep for that.
- Snacks: Here's where the snack packs come in handy.
- Reusable water bottle: You'll be able to refill it at free water stations
- CamelBak: A two-for-one special, this will hold more water than a reusable water bottle. A CamelBak backpack can also hold many of the essentials you'll want with you during the day. CamelBaks vary in size and price, and can be found at sporting-goods stores and at online retailers.
- Solar-powered phone charger: For people who can't keep away from their phones, a portable charger is a must-have. Solar-powered ones work best, as they can be clipped to a backpack and charge your phone while you're dancing in the sun.
- Fanny pack
- Deodorant: Please.
- Shower supplies: Bring travel-size shampoo, conditioner and body wash. If you can bring biodegradable stuff, even better.
- Shower shoes: It's just plain gross to enter a public shower with bare feet. Protect yourself.
- Towels: Bring two. Between showering, getting sweaty at yoga, getting messy at camp or swimming at Aquachobee, Okeechobee's man-made beach, there's a good chance you'll need more than one.
- Baby wipes: Okeechobee charges $7 for a shower. If that seems too expensive, don't worry, no judgment, I get it. I'm trying to party on a budget, too. Baby wipes will be your best friend.
- Vitamins: Vitamin C will help to protect you from potential illness, while Vitamin B will give your body a boost of energy after a long night of partying. Berocca is a vitamin supplement that combines B and C with other minerals such as zinc and magnesium to keep you sharp and fresh throughout the day.
- Your ticket, ID and wallet
- Sun protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat
- Bug spray
- Hand sanitizer
- Flashlight and/or headlamp
- Old shoes: Bring shoes you don't really care about
- Clothes: This should be super obvious, but pack clothes. Bring extra underwear and socks. It will be hot during the day, but temperatures will drop at night, so pack sweaters and pants as well as shorts and tanks. Think of layers when packing. Onesies will keep you warm while allowing you to dance comfortably.
- Bathing suit
- Sandals with straps: You'll be doing a lot of walking, so if sandals are your thing, I highly recommend wearing Tevas or other sandals with straps. If it gets muddy, you'll still be able to walk in them without getting stuck, and you'll easily be able to dance. These waterproof sandals also make good shower shoes.
- Hammock: There are many trees on Okeechobee's 600 acres, so bring a hammock in which to chill.
- Bandanna: A bandanna can protect your face from dirt, be used as a headband or be tied around a sprained ankle. Plus, it can add to any outfit.
- Yoga mat: Yoga will be offered at Yogachobee, Okeechobee's healing and meditation center. Yoga mats can also serve as a sleeping pad.
- Speakers: Bring extra batteries.
- Duct tape: Can be used to hang flags and tapestries to your canopy tent or to tape up your shoe if it breaks.
- Zip ties: also great for hanging or keeping items together. Zip ties can keep a shoe tied together or repair a broken fanny pack or backpack strap.
- Mesh bag: If your clothes get wet, put them in a mesh bag and hang it from your canopy tent (using your zip ties) while you're out all day. When you come back, your clothes should be dry.
- Sleep mask: The sun has been rising just before 7 a.m., so if that brightness is too early for you, pack a sleep mask.
- Games: During downtime, you may want to toss around a Frisbee, play mini golf or kick a soccer ball.
- Label your valuables with your contact information, and your phone with a friend's phone number. You can put this information on your lock screen, as well.
- To preserve battery life, keep your phone on airplane mode when you're not using it.
- Be open to bartering. If you forget something, there's a good chance a fellow camper will have it.