Locals reflect on Okeechobee festival's success

Posted at 8:19 PM, Mar 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-07 21:17:10-05

Clean up is underway at the Okeechobee Music and Arts festival site.

Workers spent Monday dismantling the stages and tent areas.

Meanwhile, festival goers started their journey home, with miles and miles of cars lined up on the road.

In some areas, traffic was at a complete standstill.

The 3 day festival brought 30,000 people to Okeechobee, one of the largest events the city has ever seen.

Even though the music has stopped, Carolyn Douglas, also known around here as 'Granny', can't stop singing the praises.


"Money... it's been good," she says with a laugh.

When we spoke to her last week, uncertainty was in the air at her Crossroads restaurant.

"We're not really expecting anything, because we don't really know what to expect," she told us.

Fast forward almost a week later, and sales have doubled.

Turns out festival goers weren't just hungry for music.

"Everybody that's been here has been very nice and well behaved," Granny says.

As far as those crowds go, the sheriff's office says 95% caused no problems

"They were very respectful, giving the officers high fives and knuckle bumps and thanking them for the job they were doing," says Noel Stephen, an undersheriff with the sheriff's office.

He also say drugs were a problem this past weekend.

Law enforcement saw 120 calls for service during the weekend.

70 people were arrested.

Our cameras were rolling last week as deputies say one festival goer tried to sneak in drugs hidden inside a stereo.

"Heroin to LSD to liquid methamphetamine, to molly, to ecstasy," Stephen says. "And there were several narcotics we found that we do not experience locally."

Neighbors also had their gripes as well.

"A few traffic problems," he says. "I think the level of the music was the biggest."

All things considered, the undersheriff says many are open bring back the festival next year - and Granny agrees, "Good stuff. Bring it on."

The sheriff's office says the county plans on addressing resident's concerns.

Officials will hold public forums in the coming weeks and months to address the issues, and next year's possibilities.