Locals preparing for Okeechobee Music Festival

Posted at 7:34 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 03:23:38-05

The Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival is set to bring some of the biggest names in music to town later this week.

The three day music festival begins on Friday and will bring out the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, Mumford and Sons, and Robert Plant.

That high anticipation is bringing excitement - and also some concern for area residents.

Over at Crossroads Restaurant, you can expect service with a smile.

But Carolyn Douglas hopes after this weekend, that smile is a little bit bigger, as she hopes some of the thousands of people expected for the festival make a stop at her restaurant.

"We are hoping that we are going to be slammed," she says. "We got everything stocked and everyone is going to be here. No one's off this weekend."

She is also tempering her expectations.

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

Indeed, the first-time festival still remains the great unknown for both businesses and residents.

"I think it'll be kind of cool for everybody to check out something different in this town," says resident Heather Atkins.

Atkins is worried that the party may spill out of its boundaries and into their neighborhood - with festival goers lingering and loitering on residential property.

"We're really hoping this isn't going to be a continuing issue the whole time we're out here," she says. 

The sheriff's office is saying it's hopeful it won't be an issue.

"I think that we're going to be able to take care of the neighboring community as best as we can," says Under Sheriff Noel Stephen with the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office.

With more than 25,000 folks anticipated in town this week, 7 different agencies and a private security company will be on hand to assist with public safety.

"Crowd control to traffic to criminal investigations...we're having to mimic operations that we have in town 7 days a week for a 4 day festival," Stephen says.

As long as everything remains positive, Carolyn says the festival could provide a big boost.

"Any kind of help for our businesses and our community is always welcome," she says.