15 Reasons Why Suwannee Hulaween was the Best Festival of 2015

suwannee hulaween 2015

For this year’s Hulaween festivities, we invited our correspondent Liz Turcotte down from Atlanta to experience her first Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park event. Liz is a pro-festy, and can set up a 4-person camp in 30 minutes flat – complete with Halloween decorations and a giving tent. As someone new to the park, but experienced in large attendance festivals, Liz offers a fresh perspective on Suwannee Hulaween. As an added bonus, it was her birthday weekend – and as you can tell from her article below, she had a blast. Welcome to SOSMP & Florida Music Blog!

1. Location, location, location
The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is nestled right off of Interstate 75 in Live Oak, Florida. As soon as you drive onto the property, an almost euphoric feeling takes over and you feel right at home between the Spanish moss and unspoiled forest. SOSMP is home to over 25 music festivals like Suwannee River Jam, Wanee Music Festival and Purple Hatters Ball, just to name a few.

hulaween location
Photo credit: Chris Monaghan

2. Thursday night pre-party
Named the best funk band from New Orleans by Time Magazine, Dumpstaphunk had us radiating ridiculously good vibes while we listed to them pump out crowd favorites like “Water.” Joe Russo’s Almost Dead played for two and a half beautiful hours and we were all super grateful. The former drummer of Further and his band captured the crowd’s attention until the moment they left the stage.

3. String Cheese Incident
How about the guys who made this whole thing possible? Six incredible sets, including the unbelievable Ghoul Train set on Halloween night, left Hulaween in awe. GZA of Wu Tang played the role of Don Cornelius from Soul Train and hosted a set that would go down in history. The crowd boogied down with Antibalas, Sheryl Renee and Leonard Julien to songs like Brick House, Dancing in September, Car Wash and several other funky beats.

string cheese incident
Photo credit: Keith Grinner

4. Art installations at Spirit Lake
Walking into Spirit Lake on Friday night was like entering an enchanted forest of lights, art and wonder. Everywhere you turned there was something incredible to look at and explore. Lighting designer John Hollingshead lit up the lake and trees with projectors of patterns and colors that would blow your mind. Trying to explain the beauty we all saw with our own eyes doesn’t even do the work justice.

spirit lake
Photo credit: Keith Grinner

spirit lake art
Photo credit: Keith Grinner

5. Stage presence
Don’t get me wrong all of the stages were amazing, but the stage of the weekend award goes to the Amphitheater Stage for two reasons. First, it was covered by trees so even though the Florida heat threatened to halt our daytime dance parties, the trees provided us with shade to shake our booties all day. Secondly, everyone in the place could see and hear the band. Although, this was really the case at the other three stages as well. Other festivals take note, people want to see and hear the shows.

6. Service puppies to make you feel all warm inside
Although it clearly states in the official Hulaween rules that pets are not allowed into the festival, we greeted several pups along our journey. These dogs are service dogs, and they help their owners cope with conditions like anxiety, fear and PTSD. When we first arrived in line to pick up our passes, a puppy in a pouch (AKA a Yorkie in a fanny pack) greeted us with sweet little button eyes. We also saw a baby squirrel in a fanny pack. The baby squirrel’s owner found it abandoned in his backyard and carried it around all weekend with a tiny bottle to feed him. So much love!

7. Jam bands will never die
Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is where jam bands live all year long. The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Dopapod, Heavy Pets, Papadosio and other acts brought the sway into Hulaween in 2015. A true hybrid of electronic music and jam bands coming together for a festival of funk is something almost unheard of these days. Kudos to Hulaween for making it happen and doing it oh so well.

hulaween 2015
Photo credit: Dave Vann

8. Craft Village is so clutch
We’ve all been to festivals where you can restock supplies by leaving the festival grounds and heading to the closest Wal-Mart, or go to a store on the festival grounds where you’re charged and arm and a leg. Not at SOSMP. There is a general store you can buy anything you could ask for at regular prices. Yup, regular prices. If you didn’t think it could get any better, you’re wrong. Next door to Country Store, homemade ice cream and delicious freshly brewed coffee are all sold for fair prices.

9. DJs did more than play on their computers
It’s no secret Silent Disco was jumping every night until the sun came up. At a certain point in the evening, the security disappeared and Spirit Lake become a hippie free-for-all. Campers would bring in their hammocks, play in the many art installations, and dance all night with some incredible DJs. Big Wild, Pretty Lights, The Polish Ambassador and Odesza all graced Hulaween with their presence on the larger stages. Big Wild was particularly impressive considering he had an early daytime slot. The masses came out to show support. High fives all around in this area.

big wild hulaween
Photo credit: Florida Music Blog

hulaween 2015
Photo credit: Dave Vann

10. Late night pop-up camp sets
There’s something magical about sharing an intimate moment with a band that captures your soul only twenty steps from your tent. DJs, live bands and themed camps ensured your night did not have to stop when you left the stage area. Leisure Chief, DJ duo Gypsy Massive and N.W. Izzard were a few of the acts to throw down in the campgrounds until sunrise.

hulaween campsite

11. The River
If you had a chance to make it down to the river you were certainly in for a treat. Suwannee River begins in South Georgia and travels to northern Florida where it eventually dumps out into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s about a ten-minute drive from the campgrounds (going the speed limit & watching out for pedestrians) so find a friend with a golf cart and make an afternoon out of it.

hulaween suwannee river
Photo Cred: www.dubera.com

12. Straight Funk
Funk originated in the 1960s as a mixture of soul, jazz and R&B. Earphunk, The Floozies, The New Mastersounds, GRiZ and Lettuce brought exactly what Hulaween needed. During Lettuce’s set on Sunday no one was talking because everyone was too busy dancing and passing “lettuce leaves.”

13. Vendor status strong
Hulaween demonstrates a true union between music and art. Black Sheep brought their handmade crafts made with fair trade materials from South America all the way from Colorado. New World Glass Gallery, out of Pennsylvania, provided everyone who was looking for it an opportunity to have a very relaxing stay. Eats for the weekend were not limited. 28 food vendors to nurse your hangover, which included Peace Love Tacos, Maine Eatery and Jungle Juice.

14. Ever been to a festival on Halloween, man?
This is hands-down the absolute best people watching on earth. Admit it, people watching at a festival is already fun. Now throw in the fact you have some of the most creative people in the country together on Halloween. Your mind pretty much just explodes. Everywhere you turn there are insanely beautiful and thought-out pieces of art people display on their bodies. If you come to Hulaween, make sure your costume is just as fabulous as you are.

hulaween costumes

hulaween costumes
Photo Cred: Florida Music Blog

15. Last but not least, the people
Next to the definition of good vibes you will more than likely find a picture of Hulaween. It’s hard to put in words the feelings you get when you’re around such beautiful souls. Positivity is radiating on full blast. Smiles are seen and laughter is heard at all hours of the day. If someone is in need, it’s guaranteed that a fellow festival goer will lend a hand. Thank you Hulaween for being so beautiful and changing our lives for the better. See you guys in 2016!

griz fans

suwannee hulaween 2015

Photo Cred: Florida Music Blog

Check out the beautiful people of Hulaween in our PHOTO GALLERY HERE.

About the Author

hula 13

Liz Turcotte, aka PocketSized Peach, is a music junkie and an Atlanta native who got her start in entertainment media in college. She enjoys blogging, traveling, cooking and spending time with her two awesome dogs and amazing boyfriend.

Twitter: @lizturcotte_
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pocketsizedpeach
Instagram: @pocketsizedpeach

Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park Links:
Twitter: @SOSMP (#Suwannee)

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