OKEECHOBEE — Traffic signs on major roads are flashing this week: “Music festival March 5-8, expect delays.” Okeechobee County residents who remember them in 2016, 2017 and 2018 are planning accordingly. What can they expect?
In 2016, 2017 and 2018, festival fans started arriving on Wednesday, some of them sleeping in their cars on Wednesday night, waiting for the gates at Sunshine Grove to open at noon on Thursday. Thursday is usually a big shopping day for those headed to OMF. Many have carpooled from other states, with limited space in their vehicles. They stop in Okeechobee for most of their perishable supplies, which might be held in the passengers’ laps or even strapped to the top of the vehicle for the 20 miles from the city of Okeechobee to the festival site northeast of town.
Past festivals have attracted up to 40,000 participants — about the same as the year-round population of Okeechobee County.
OMF is a camping festival. Once they have set up their campsites, most fans stay on the festival grounds until they are ready to head home.
The last festival concerts are Sunday night. Fans are asked to leave no later than noon on Monday. That usually means quite a bit of traffic on the road leaving the festival grounds on Monday, but most of that traffic goes north and not through the City of Okeechobee.
In 2019, the festival was on hiatus.
The 2020 OMF headliners are Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, Bassnectar and RÜFÜS DU SOL. More than 100 artists will perform at the weekend festival.
The festival grounds, 12517 N.E. 91st Ave., Okeechobee, are called “Sunshine Grove.” For more information online, go to okeechobeefest.com.