What a Time

Lynn Student Makes Unforgettable Memories at the Hulaween Music Festival

By Gerard L. Jones, Managing Editor

The 2023 Suwannee Hulaween Music Festival was one of the most unique and positive experiences I have ever had. 

I have attended several other music festivals and yet still, I did not know what to expect at my first Hulaween. Friends who had attended the festival previously, raved about their experiences, assuring me that this would be an experience unlike any other. No review or description could have fully prepared me. 

Because I arrived late, around 1:00 AM, I assumed everyone would be asleep and that I would struggle to find a camping spot. In contrast, I was greeted by vibrant festival goers who quickly introduced themselves and stopped to help set up my tint. They offered me food and drinks as if we had been old friends. This, as I would come to learn, was the spirit of Hulaween. 

“At Hula everybody is like family” said Khalil Campbell, a festival enthusiast. “No one brings bad vibes into the festival. People are just trying to have a good time.”

Hulaween has no shortage of opportunities for a good time. With constant music in the background and decorated with magical lights, the mystical Lake Suwannee could be described as an music-lovers paradise. The String Cheese Incident, an American Jam Band who has been connected to the festival since it’s inception, was a crowd favorite. Attempting to confine their music into one genre would be unjust, as each selection draws inspiration from a diverse range of styles, including country, funk, electronic, and others. One festival goer shared his interesting reaction to the String Cheese Incident. 

“I’m strung out, I got all that funky cheese coming out of my ears” said Tyler D’Ausillo, a Boca Raton resident. 

It seems that mix-genre artists are a staple at Hula. Big Wild, an EDM artist who kept the audience dancing his unique mix of funk psychedelic sounds, was a crowd favorite. Playing simultaneously on another stage was an artist who has now moved to the top of my personal playlist, Smino. If I had any critique for the festival, it would be that they had so many amazing artist playing various stages at the same time and unfortunately, I could not clone myself in order to see them all. 

The music may be the headliner of Hulaween, but good food, art displays, and various performance artist add just as much to the experience. I had the opportunity to sit in on an impromptu herbalist class with Alexander Howe, better known on social media as Bush Ninja. He taught on the medicinal power plants, the importance of learning from nature, and the powerful impact of bees. I also walked through the “Mural Maze” multiple times, allowing the myriad of colors and designs to inspire my creative brain. The plethora of attractions gave explanation to the multicultural crowd in attendance. People of every ethnicity, from children in strollers to elderly in wheelchairs, Hulaween has something for all. 

When October comes around, Suwannee Hulaween Music Festival is the perfect place to break away from the dull, redundant realities of everyday life. It is a burst of diverse expression and a safe place for people to explore. If you are able to attend Hulu in 2024, I hope I get to be the first to greet you with a warm smile and a “Happy Hula”. 

A stage and attendees at the 2023 Hulaween Music Festival. Photo/A. Bradley.

The welcome sign greeting festival-goers at the 2023 Suwanee Hulaween Music Festival. Photo/C. Scout. 

Above:

Festive lights and crowds at another stage of Hulaween 2023. Photo/ A. Bradley.

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