2020 Okeechobee Music Festival is under way

Concert fans reminded to wash hands often

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee Music Festival opened Thursday at Sunshine Grove in northeastern Okeechobee County. This group, from the University of Florda, stopped by the box office at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center to pick up their tickets. Some groups use flags or “totems” to make it easy for the members of their group to find each other in the festival crowd.

OKEECHOBEE — Stores were stocked with camping supplies, the sheriff checked and double-checked the security plans and quite a few year-round residents went shopping a little earlier this week to avoid the crowds.
It’s music festival weekend in Okeechobee.

“Everything is going very well,” said Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen on Wednesday. “The plans are in place, reviewed and gone over again. We want the 30,000 folks anticipated at the festival to have a good and safe of a time as possible.”

The sheriff said worldwide fears about the coronavirus have caused some “hiccups” in planning the large public event, causing more resources to be put into the medical side than the law enforcement side of public safety plans. Expect to see a lot of hand washing stations at the festival. “We’re pushing that message,” said the sheriff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular hand washing as an important way to prevent the spread of viruses.

The sheriff said his department was checking vendors entering the festival grounds on Tuesday and Wednesday. The experience of the first three OMF events taught the sheriff that some vendors attempt to bring in things that are illegal to sell. The festival opened to the public on Thursday at noon.

As with the past two festivals, the 2020 OMF will have “amnesty” boxes outside the festival grounds for those who want to dispose of any contraband before they enter the venue.

“We are trying to control it as best we can for everyone to have a good and safe time,” he explained. “It’s not our first year. We have three years’ experience with music festivals.” He said he does not foresee any problems.

He said the change in festival management, with the addition of Insomniac, has gone smoothly. “Insomniac has a great group of people,” he said.

Sheriff Stephen said the setup for the festival is a little different this year, and he thinks festivalgoers will like it.

At the Okeechobee Walmart, camping gear and camping supplies were piled high on displays at the front of the store on Wednesday. A store associate said they try to make it easy on the festival crowd to find everything they need for the weekend. She said she enjoys talking to the festival fans when they come into the store. It’s a chance to meet people from all over the country.

On Thursday, the festival box office at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center was busy and well organized. Those who purchased tickets early received their wrist bands in the mail, but with ticket sales still going on this week, some are picking up wrist bands at the box office.

The music festival, at Sunshine Grove in northeastern Okeechobee County, runs through Sunday night. Campers are required to leave the festival grounds by noon on Monday.

The music festival has set up a hotline for local residents who have any questions or concerns related to the event: 863-310-1126.
For more information on the festival go to okeechobeefest.com.

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