Most residents supportive of Music Festival

OKEECHOBEE — The 2018 Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival was held March 1-4 in northeastern Okeechobee County. How did area residents react to the event? I posted this question on social media on Saturday: “The Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival is underway? What are your impressions this year? Have you called the hotline?”

Most of the responses were positive, although some of those who live close to the festival grounds found the noise was a problem.

Lindy McCoin, who lives near the festival, reported that the noise was actually worse for her this year. The festival organizers changed the orientation of the stages to help reduce the sound bleed in other directions, but it wound up louder at her house.

“They turned the stage and I live practically across the street from it, and it was horrid,” she wrote.

“Thursday night was horrible,” she wrote. “My son who isn’t quite 2 yet didn’t sleep at all because of the noise. Friday was bad until about 11. Last night was bad ’til a little after 12 and again he didn’t sleep. It was way quieter last year. Overall it was bad. People driving and stopping in our driveway all hours of the night to use the bathroom and along our fence screaming and hollering all hours of the night as well.” She noted that she lives “very close,” and added that aside from the noise, “everything is better from year one.”

She also stated that in spite of everything, she supports the festival.

“I mean I’m all for it. Just kind of sucks when you have small children that wake up to the smallest noises,” she wrote.

Other social media posters complimented Soundslinger on their efforts to reduce the traffic and noise issues they had complained about with previous festivals. Some of their comments were:

• Julia Sapp McClelland: “I don’t live close, but I usually hear the rumble pretty loud all weekend. Thankfully, I haven’t heard anything this weekend.”

• Sean Williams: “Soundslinger did a good job rearranging stages to cut down noise for those living nearby.”

• Doug McCoy: “I was on site Friday near dusk and outside the venue was surprisingly quiet.”

• Amy Mayer Howard: “I didn’t see near the traffic congestion on the roads like last two years.”

• Michelle Yochim-Rowley: “The way they arranged things this year was great in my opinion. Traffic, police presence, stages … things have come a long way since year 1.”

• Cathryn Glasgow: “Around midnight Friday I could hear a very faint echo from the venue all the way in town … but it wasn’t bad. I really had to listen carefully for it. I can’t say I’d want to live close to it, though.”

• Donna Hood: “Noise is definitely cut down. Live about 2-3 miles from there & barely heard noise.”

• Jeanie Hartis: “The first year, it rattled my dishes in the cabinets. This year I hear a faint drum, bass beat, kinda like when semis go down the highway. So to me, it’s a whole lot better! I live by the golf course.”

• Phyllis Arnold Bass: “Everything is better. Each year they tweak concerns. Noise level is definitely down.”

• Leann Clark: “Choice of artists wasn’t good. The noise is definitely less. I haven’t heard near the constant boom boom boom as in years past. Also, the spring break hasn’t started for most colleges yet. Easter is late this year. Whoever is organizing the event needs to regroup.”

• Heather Lanier Charlie Collier: “You can hear the bass in Country Hills Estates but it’s not bothersome. I heard horror stories … they must’ve really improved the layout or something!”

• Sharon Williams: “Also live in Country Hills. Noise was no problem, big improvement. Traffic no problem. I saw more traffic in town than 9 miles north of town. I wonder if they target an older generation what kind of turnout they would get.”

• Jim Christensen: “No problem with noise. I could care less anyways. Its only a few days a year nothing to complain about.”

• Chance Murphy: “Soundslinger will set up temp noise dampening walls in your house … there’s a few people that live next to it that have them this year … so they’re trying to help out as much as they can. Because quite frankly, they don’t have to do a damn thing to be honest. So be grateful.”

• Linda Evans: “Was a good year, not a problem.”

• Mary Beth Fry Cooper: “We have a ranch just north of the venue. We really couldn’t hear the music at all this year. The past two years we could hear the bass, but it didn’t bother us.

We actually went over there on Saturday afternoon for the first time. We were astounded by the logistics of organizing this event. Soundslinger does a fabulous job of trying to address concerns of the Okeechobee citizens. I think this is a great opportunity for our county and would welcome more events throughout the year.”

• Kim Harmon Smith: “The traffic definitely seemed better this year.”

• Sarah Smith: “The noise was horrible this year, worse than last year. I live right across the street.”

• Phyllis Arnold Bass: “Well, they have cranked it up tonight (Sunday)! And we are about 9 miles as the crow flies away.

“I’m not complaining about the Sunday Night Music. I was just making a statement. It’s their last night and I appreciate all the extra planning for this year’s fest. I hope everyone had a fun and safe time and safe journey home.”

• Heather Lanier Charlie Collier: “Just sitting here in my kitchen thinking tonight (Sunday) is the finale! It is pretty loud here … we are not bothered though!”

• Tiffany Scott Siefker: “We live about 3/4 mile from it, not too bad. Traffic was not great Thursday for us. The part that flustered me was the traffic stops Monday-Thursday. I was pulled over three times in two days for stuff like, ‘we thought your windows were too dark,’ and ‘the strip on the front of your car comes down too far.’ Once they found out I was a neighbor, they let me go, but all I was doing was taking my kids to and from school! Don’t get me wrong, I think it is awesome that they make so many drug busts, but I was literally doing nothing wrong, and it scared my kids every time they stopped us.”

• Kristie Centers Brown: “You know, it’s sad when they build things to bring money entertainment to Okeechobee but then they go around harassing people, pulling people over, hoping they get a big score. It would be different if someone was acting suspicious or something for probable cause. I was on my way from Fort Pierce Thursday. Cops had pulled four vehicles, I counted, and then harassing people who live in Okeechobee as well.”

• Brenda Scott-Adams: “I love volunteering for this with the BRAT Club! Thank you for the opportunity. It’s pretty awesome to see so many people in one place enjoying life, not stressing even if it’s for just a few days. I know I met a lot of people and all were polite and happy! Amazing organization and logistics put into this function.”

• Teresa Chandler Bishop: “They even gave passes to volunteers for all three days. If you did one shift, you had access all weekend. That’s a real benefit to volunteer organizations and people that want to go but cannot afford it.

“If you have extra time, volunteer for a shift and reap the benefits of full festival access!

“The BRAT Club had two booths this year and met the most polite, respectful people ever!

The attendees are all there to spend money, listen to music and celebrate life. I think it’s the most relaxed, smooth sailing concert setting I’ve ever been to!

“This is our third year and traffic has improved as well as organization.

“Okeechobee is the chosen one for this venue and we all should be grateful for this opportunity.”

• Courtney Berlin Moyett: Remember folks, you are always welcome to come to any county commission meeting to voice your concerns. I go to them frequently, and rarely is there ever anyone that wants to take action. Most people are all talk behind a computer screen.

• Ray Cashwell: “I talked with a few at Walmart. They seemed alright. So, it’s a good thing.”

• Mike McCoin: “I wish they could double the size of it too. Bring more people here and make it two times a year.”

• Kevin Bruce Sweatt: I love it. Bring it at least two times a year!”

• Jim Mccoin: “I live across the street and I can hear everything pretty clear …. but heck it Okeechobee Music Festival! They are having a blast over there. I am happy for them …. my dogs on the other hand keep looking out the window and barking.”

• Sharon Williams: “(For neighboring residents) They should send or we could pick up ‘car pass’ to put on driver’s window. It would mark us as locals. Traveling back and forth, it would save time not stopping the car and save the officers’ time. During (Hurricane) Irma, workers had them to get to and from work during curfew.”

• Brenda Scott-Adams: “Volunteer and actually go see what it’s all about. I was much more grateful after volunteering and actually being there. I don’t think the people who have not experienced it, get it. It’s an amazing event and Okeechobee is lucky to have it!”

Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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