Trading ‘kandi’ is part of music festival culture

OKEECHOBEE — Some of the festival fans who attend the 2020 Okeechobee Music Festival will arrive with arms stacked with colorful bracelets. The jewelry is not just part of a costume. It’s part of a music festival tradition.

At music festivals, accepting “kandi” from strangers takes on a new meaning. Kandi refers to the brightly colored bracelets, usually made from pony beads, that are worn and traded by music festival fans.

According to “” kandi bracelets worn on the right arm are available to trade. Bracelets worn on the left arm are off limits; these may hold some special memories or just be favorites the person likes to show off.

It is considered in poor taste to trade a bracelet someone else gave you at that same festival. It’s also bad manners to just walk up to someone and ask for a bracelet. Better to start a conversation and spend a few minutes talking first.

While pony bead bracelets are the most common form of kandi, other bracelets, such as those made from para-cord, are also used. Some fans bring other trinkets to share or trade.

There is even a little ceremony and a handshake that goes along with a kandi trade. The PLUR handshake stands for peace, love, unity and respect. (Some people add a second R, which stands for responsibility.)

Peace: Make the “peace sign” and touch fingers with your new friend.

Lake Okeechobee News/Katrina Elsken

Love: Curve hands to form a heart.

Lake Okeechobee News/Katrina Elsken

Unity: Palms flat against each other.

Lake Okeechobee News/Katrina Elsken

Respect: Intertwine fingers with the other person.

Lake Okeechobee News/Katrina Elsken

With fingers still intertwined, each person slides a bracelet onto their new friend’s arm.

Lake Okeechobee News/Katrina Elsken

The Okeechobee Music Festival will be held March 5-8 in Sunshine Grove in northeast Okeechobee County. Headliners Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, Bassnectar, RÜFÜS DU SOL, and over 100 artists from all points of the musical spectrum will perform. OMF will also feature immersive art experiences, pop-up performances, creative installations, yoga, life enhancing workshops, and other experiences that define the festival’s eclectic nature. For more information online, go to

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