Unless you’re a Sunshine State OG, the answer is probably “no.” And even if you have heard of it, chances are you’ve never been there.
With a population of just over 5,000, the biggest thing to hit Okeechobee was a Category 5 hurricane that nearly destroyed everything in its path back in 1928. But starting next year, the small town will be going big with a new music festival to rival the twin behemoths Coachella and Bonnaroo.
The inaugural Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival is slated for March 4-6, 2016, featuring 80 acts performing on five stages set up in the nearby woodlands. Topping the multi-genre bill is British folk rock band Mumford & Sons, L.A. rapper Kendrick Lamar and EDM superstar Skrillex. Other artists set to perform include Future, Miguel, Deer Tick, Dr. Dog, Big Gram (Big Boi and Phantogram), Grace Potter and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Produced without the benefit of a big corporate sponsor like AEG for Coachella, organizers say Okeechobee will be highlighted by a series of “once-in-a-lifetime artist collaborations produced by the creative force behind the Bonnaroo SuperJam.”
The three-day festival also promises to be Florida’s biggest camping event of any kind, which sounds like a lot of pitched tents and messy Porta Potties to us.
And Okeechobee will face other challenges. It often takes years for a festival to start making a profit (it took Coachella nearly a decade), and Floridians already have a plethora of diverse music events to choose from, including the Ultra Music Festival in Miami Beach (March 18-20) and Fort Lauderdale’s popular country-tinged Tortuga Music Festival in April.
Still, festival organizer Soundslinger (Bonnaroo, Outside Lands) sees big time potential in Okeechobee.
“People are looking for meaningful festival experiences and events where they can connect with a true sense of inspiration and community,” said Paul Peck, Soundslinger COO and chief creative officer, in a press statement. “(Okeechobee) is the most naturally beautiful festival site in the country and we’re transforming it into a magical new world.”
So if you remember a time before Coachella and Bonnaroo were part of the lexicon, get ready to Okeechobee to your vernacular.