OMF Participation Row featured local nonprofits

OKEECHOBEE — Fans attending the 2018 Okeechobee Music Festival, March 1-4 at Sunshine Grove in northeastern Okeechobee, had a chance to learn more about the many service organizations in the Okeechobee area while visiting Participation Row in the festival’s ChobeeWobee Village.

The 2018 Participation Row, advertised as a social action village, featured: Archibold Biological Station; Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River & Okeechobee Counties; Helping People Succeed; Hibiscus Children’s Center; Home Builders Institute; Humane Society of the Treasure Coast; Martha’s House; Okeechobee Fraternal Order of Police; Okeechobee Substance Abuse Coalition; The Warrior Center; Treasure Coast Food Bank; and HeadCount.

At the Martha’s House booth in Participation Row at the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, fans used handprints to paint a giant mural. Reauna Hinkal of Zephyrhills was one of the participants. Photos by K. Elsken.

Visitors were encouraged to pick up a passport and have it stamped by four of the participating agencies. These passports were then entered in a drawing for a guitar signed by all of the musical artists who performed at the festival.

Each Participation Row station included information and an activity.

Visitors to the Warrior Center booth helped build a ramp for a disabled veteran. Festival artists stopped by on Sunday to paint the ramp. Photos by K. Elsken.

Treasure Coast Food Bank asked festival fans to write their thoughts about hunger on paper plates. The plates will be sent to elected officials in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to promote programs to fight hunger in this country.

“We did this last year and people really responded to it,” said Triana Romero of Treasure Coast Food Bank. She added that it is interesting to see people’s different perspectives about hunger.

The Okeechobee Substance Abuse Coalition also invited participants to sign a banner that will be sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

HeadCount registered voters and held an election for “President of Okeechobee Music Festival.” (Snoop Dogg won by a landslide.) They also signed up interested persons for local election email alerts.

Messages about hunger in America were written on paper plates at the Treasure Coast Food Bank booth. The plates will be sent to elected officials in Tallahassee and D.C. Photos by K. Elsken.

Martha’s House asked participants to help create a handprint mural, with different colors representing different emotions. Martha’s House Executive Director Jonathan Bean said he enjoyed meeting the festival fans. “They are all so kind, friendly and nice,” he said. He also enjoyed watching them take great care with their part in the mural. “People are so careful painting their hands,” he said. “Each one is creating their own little artwork.” He noted some people used thumbprints to create a heart shape. One couple added their infant’s footprint to the mural.

The Warrior Center asked fans to help build a ramp for a handicapped veteran. The fans also tested the ramp to make sure it was sturdy. At one point, dozens of people were doing yoga on it, according to Bianca Keefe. On the last day of the festival, artists participating in the music festival painted the ramp with bright colors and the Warrior Center emblem.

Archibold Biological Station’s booth in Participation Row invites visitors to participate in a drum circle. Photos by K. Elsken.

HeadCount’s Mercedes Gomez wears a colorful VOTE. The pins, which had the OMF portal logo on the letter O, were given to those who registered to vote during the festival. Photos by K. Elsken.

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