Each year there’s thousands who flock to the sleepy town of Live Oak, Florida to camp along the Suwanee River. In the midst of lowering temperatures, trees that are merely bare branches, fall begins to creep in. However, each year in the last weekend of October at the Spirit of Suwanee Music Park, this town is anything but quiet.
Suwannee Hulaween is an annual music and camping festival over Halloween weekend. The festival, hosted by The String Cheese Incident is held outdoors on five stages and allows attendees to camp onsite for the weekend. The music park campground is over 800 acres and offers a wide range of options for camping, RV with hookups, to cabin rentals and primitive camping.
While, some of the atmosphere at the festival can resemble a neo-hippie era, from hula-hoop twirling to scattered tie-dye shirts, drugs and alcohol are also prevalent such as mushrooms, cocaine, molly, or marijuana. However, there are others who choose to do Hulaween completely sober. Some of these people are recovering drug addicts and alcoholics who live everyday sober, and others make the decision to stay clean for the weekend.
Sober Music Festivals
Typically at music festivals in this day and age, a sober following can always be found. Bonarroo, which incorporates Soberoo for those in recovery. Soberoo officially started in 2009, but have been there helping people stay clean since 2002. They host four meetings a day for all patrons, and these meetings are free to attend and are 100% anonymous. Average attendance per meeting is around 50-75 people.
Sobberoo meetings are a safe place for the attendees to speak freely about their experiences and ask for advice. Some people will talk about their current day or past days at the festival, while others will share their stories. These groups have an amazing energy and the amount of support among the meetings is astounding. They also host two meetings a day for the artists and the crew, these are not open to general admission.
Soberoo isn’t just limited to Bonnaroo, they go to over a dozen major festivals throughout the US, helping thousands of people a year stay sober at music festivals. Festivals like Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Panorama, Electric Daisy Carnival, Lightning in a Bottle and Governors Ball. Their name changes depending on the festival, and Hulaween typically offers their version of this, “Camp Traction.”
This year at Hulaween, Camp Traction will be one of the onsite camp grounds that are strictly limited to those who are staying sober, which is a great place to meet others that are doing the festival sober.
‘Camp Traction’ started as a small group of sober friends who worked with promoters to secure a designated area where they can set up a sober camping area. When conceived, it was setup without any knowledge of how many people would participate, but now boasts a large community of sober music-lovers. Camp Traction can be easily spotted with their blue flag and yellow balloons hanging outside the festival area.
And, while many bands and music groups tend to have sober followings, (i.e. Grateful Dead’s ‘Wharfrats,’ and Phish’s, ‘Phellowship’) Hulaween’s headliner, “The String Cheese Incident,” has “The Jellyfish” – their own sober following. The Jellyfish are group of men and women who choose to experience String Cheese Incident shows without the use of drugs or alcohol, and their primary purpose is to provide a safe environment for clean & sober String Cheese Incident fans. The Jellyfish are not affiliated with AA, NA, or any other 12 step program, and are not affiliated with the band directly, however typically at each show they have a booth set up where those in recovery can go to fellowship and jam out with other fans who are choosing to stay sober.
There’s no doubt that if you’re going to Hulaween or any music festival sober, nerves can set in and anxiety can distract you from having fun and enjoying your time. However, it’s important to remember your triggers, red flags, always have a way out, and remember – support can be found everywhere you go.
If you want to be interviewed by me, or just have some sober fun this weekend email me at: email@example.com and we’ll meet up. Chances are – we’ll be having more fun than the “normies.”