Okeechobee 2017

Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival 2017: The Week That Changed My Life

by • March 25, 2017

Okeechobee, for me it’s a word that brings nothing but a smile and will send me back to my favorite festival I have been to. However, my experience this year was a little different than most. Let me tell you about my week volunteering at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival 2017.

The Sunday before it all, I am in Times Square, eating a slice of pizza and thinking about what comes ahead. Monday morning, we fly into Orlando and my schedule leaves me enough room to go to the house, get my car (shoutout to my roommates to pack my car and clothes for a week out). After a quick stop at Publix to grab some bites, I’m on the Turnpike southbound. I arrive and am told to drive to the end of the lot where I meet my campmates. Not long after, we all clicked and I realized this is a thing that happens at festivals. I felt like I’ve known these people since childhood. We set up our tents in the trees, played some flip cup, and called it a night.

Tuesday is our first volunteering day, and we were sent to The Lodge to work and it was wonderful. The house was nearly all wood and the production team was zipping around making this dream come to life in front of my eyes. Eventually, we found our way to assist the team working with Artist Relations. Our task was decorating the green rooms and moving furniture to its home for the week. Two of us stayed after our shift to keep helping, there was much work left to do after six and it felt wrong to leave them dry. We finished the night building a ping pong table around 10-ish, got back to camp, and discussed our days with the campmates.

Okeechobee

Wednesday is a day I’ll never forget. I had my opportunity to work with Photo/Video as well as one of the producers directly. The crew flew in from Greece and were such a joy to be around. While the day was split between English and Greek, I helped where I could and even took some photos for them. It was another day I went over my hours but you can’t complain when you love what you’re doing. After a lot of drone footage and golf cart shenanigans, we ate dinner and split. I had to turn down a night of drinking with them… it was hard to do but after weighing my options, it was a responsible choice; Okeechobee is a marathon, not a sprint.

Thursday was my last shift and it started early. We got to watch the sunrise, it’s something all of us should do more often. On this day, we worked the gates, meaning we were the first faces Okeechobeeings got to see. While the cars were getting checked, we were talking to them and scanning wristbands. After our shift, I waited for my crew to come in and sadly left my new friends.

From Friday on I lived and loved. It was full of bass drops, smiles and sax. Lots and lots of sax. A friend of ours, D3V, even had 2 DJ sets in Chobie Wobie Village! We had the coolest neighbors and we linked up with some from the year before. Okeechobee is almost too good to be true but it’s live and real. Experience it.

Every Okeechobeeing will tell you how their weekend was and you’ll never hear the same story twice. Every experience was unique. Mine changed my life in the best way possible.

To my campmates Michael, Tyler, Ashely, Sarah, Karina, Sandro, Jalen, and Molly, Chris, Nikos and video crew, and my squad Matt, Mikey, Zane, Michael, Allie Steven and Co and our nabes, until next time.

Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival 2017: The Week That Changed My Life by Collen Pryor. Edited by Richie Williams.

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