Hulaween 2016: A Mobilian’s Experience
Text and Photos by Jason Burglar
Hulaween takes place every year at The Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla. For Mobilians, it’s an easy drive down I-10. This was my first time attending Hulaween, and it was an experience.
Bill Nershi of String Cheese Incident
Hulaween is a music festival with headliners like String Cheese Incident, The Claypool-Lennon Delirium and My Morning Jacket. There were several other acts as well, and if their performances are any indication, supporting bands will end up headlining sooner rather than later. The music never stops, with artists playing into the wee hours of the morning.
Once you arrive at the festival site, time sort of disappears. The beauty of the park, especially the famous Spirit Lake is breathtaking. Even with loud music and people all around, it seems somehow peaceful. There is a magic to this place.
Most attending the festival opt to camp, which I would highly recommend. For a $20 car camping pass, you can drive right into the woods, park, and camp in nearly whatever spot is available. Those who have been to Hulaween before told me that this was the first year that the fest has issued car camping passes. In previous years, no additional pass was needed to park and camp, but due to the incredible growth of the event, the number of cars had to be limited. The passes go quickly, so I advise getting a car pass as soon as they go on sale.
Those without car passes parked in a large field just outside the festival. There was a free shuttle service to take people back and forth to the music. In the spirit of “One Love,” fans could easily hitch a ride from a passing golf cart.
As I walked by the various campsites, it was fun to see what people brought with them. Everything from tapestries, bubble machines, and even a full DJ system with big ol’ speakers. Everyone was mingling and meandering about, and were able to shed the worries of the outside world, if only for a weekend.
Even if campers couldn’t care less about the music, there’s still tons to see and do at Hulaween. They had yoga classes, walks, and art installations. The art by Spirit Lake needs to be experienced twice: once during the day and again at night. Daytime is perfect for checking out the large wooden sculptures, or testing your balance on the tight ropes. But at night is when it really becomes another experience. Colorful lights were cast on the Spanish moss hanging from the trees, and black lights made the large free-standing paintings pop. It was like walking through Halloweentown from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
The people at Hulaween couldn’t be nicer. The organizers of the event do an amazing job of creating a safe experience for everyone. I even made friends with several people on the security team. The vibe of love and unity was something I wish I knew how to bottle and give out, because holy cow the world needs more of it.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I deeply encourage anyone who thinks they may be interested to go in 2017 if at all possible. Just be sure to carefully read the website for the do’s and don’ts, and come prepared with your crew and camping gear. It’s a weekend you’ll carry with you forever.