Suwannee Music Festivals bring lots of first-time festival attendees, out of towners and many from out of state. This little article is to help those unfamiliar with the ways of the Florida woods. It is a collaborative effort between Jake Pugh, the Director of Sales & Marketing at Catoma and myself. Suwannee Hulaween will provide you with memories to last a lifetime, and if you follow the advice below hopefully they are all positive ones that you are taking home! This is not an exhaustive list, so chime in in the comments if you have other safety/logistical tips!
– Suwannee is magical for many reasons, one of those is the beautiful majestic Live Oak Trees. However, they are very old, branches do fall. They are called “widow makers” for a reason. Look up and inspect BEFORE you start setting up. Make sure you carefully and thoroughly clear your tent location of sticks and stones and broken bones before you set your tent up. You don’t want a damaged tent floor or a busted air mattress when a few minutes of cleanup would have saved you the trouble.
– If you put a tarp under your tent for extra protection, make sure you tuck the corners and edges UNDER your tent. If it rains and your tarp is sticking out, it will funnel all the rain under your tent to puddle beneath you and your stuff. No bueno.
– Don’t forget to zip your doors and windows up when you leave your tent. It may seem obvious, but if you forget to do this and it rains while you are away for a few hours, you’re gonna have a bad time.
– Put a rug outside your tent to have somewhere to knock the sand off before you climb in, I even have a little “welcome” mat. Keep a plastic tub with a few inches of water in it to scrub your feet before bed. I highly recommend it, game changer!
– Use a hanging shower bag with a basin underneath for rinsing dishes, washing your face, brushing your teeth, filling your water bottle, etc. At the end of the weekend, dump the greywater from the basin into a portapotty to be hauled off. If you do not have a shower basin a large 2.5 gallon of water that sits flat on a table works wonders!
– Put a string through a roll of toilet paper and tie the ends together. Voila, you have a TP necklace you can take to the campsite potty, and you won’t have to sit it down in there. Also, maybe hand sanitizer. The rest of us will thank you 🙂
– Take a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit for your camp and locate them in a place that’s easy to get to. Make sure everyone in your camp knows where they are. It may seem paranoid… until you need them.
– If a) the fire ban is lifted and b) you decide to build a fire… clear the area around your fire of anything flammable (like leaves), be aware of the wind speeds and direction, and put it out before you crash. Dig a hole to have the fire in and line the outside with rocks. This can help prevent someone accidently stepping in it, the fire spreading, etc…….
– Know where you are! Sounds really basic, right? Suwannee is dark, not much signage and wouldn’t take much to get very lost. Know what area you are camped in, maybe take a picture, each area is fairly different so just that little bit of information will help if someone needs to guide you back.
– Take your headlamp with you when you go into the festival for the night. You never know when you may end up stumbling around in the dark… Your headlamp might become your best friend. If you do not have a headlamp a small flashlight that can be clipped to you is a good runner up option.
– Be aware of where you leave your valuables. Most Hula fam are the best people in the world. But when 20,000 people show up to anything, someone is willing to steal. Lock them in the car or stash them carefully. Lock your tent, do not leave items sitting out at your camp when you go in for the shows that cant go “missing.”
– IF you purchase illicit substances ( I don’t recommend it), TEST them. If you don’t have a test kit, ask the seller if they have one. If they don’t, ask your neighbors and your neighbor’s neighbors. A lot of us have testing kits with us and we would be happy to help keep you safe.
– Share! Look out for your neighbors, show compassion and empathy, and if you have an extra breakfast burrito, bring it on over to Gravity camp, I’ll take care of it for you and gift you back something tasty. Embrace the basic morals of life – be kind, treat others how you want to be treated.
– Drink more water than you think you need, eat some veggies, get a little sleep.
– This is a very basic list : batteries, bug spray, water, cash, ID, credit / debit card (there are ATM’s), sweatshirt, cold weather clothes – it will get colder than you think! With this years weather I would also bring an umbrella, poncho, rain boots and extra socks 🙂 Cellphone reception isn’t great – do not count on being able to make and / or receive calls. There is a small country store in case you forget some basic essentials!
See you in the woods ya weirdos!