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In the Spotlight: The Bear Creek Experience, as told by Rachel

By Rachel Steinhauser posted Nov 23, 2010 at 08:36 PM

Bear Creek Music Festival 2010

Bear Creel Festival

Don't be fooled. Just when you think you're going to Checkers off the turnpike at a rest stop in the middle of Florida, you're not. I was a victim of the false advertising on the way to Bear Creek Music Festival last week in Live Oak, Florida at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park & Campground.

I was with the best of company, my beautiful roommate and boyfriend (Brady of WVUM). Just kidding - I love them; they're practically my legal guardians. Anyway, after I got over the absence of Checkers in my belly (and the fact there was no toilet paper in my stall), I was ready to enter festival mode. I don't know how many of you readers have been to music festivals, but it is like a whole other world in the world of another world. It is EPIC. Now, I'm talking about camping festivals here. No offense to Ultra, but it's an entirely different experience. Just the idea that you can see such an eclectic line up of amazing bands and sleep in the same place really gets me excited. No taxi needed. Indulge yourself.

Read on for the rest of the trip...

Bear Creek Music Festival happens every fall season at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park & Campground, home to many other festivals throughout the year. Although it may have seemed far, driving to the site was amazing, and meeting people from Tallahassee and Gainesville made the experience that much more exciting. The lack of Miami people bothered me, but  I loved the completely different landscape. Check out these trees:

It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I arrived Friday night only to realize Saturday morning that I was in Bear Creek heaven.

Friday night. We arrived and got a sweet spot near the music. Bear Creek is a very small festival in comparison to the other camp-out festivals I've attended.  The intimate setting made this my favorite festival. When you only have to walk five minutes to get to the music, it is SUCH a treat. We saw the Malah and Perpetual Groove and I decided I never wanted to leave.  The nights on the Bear Creek site in North Florida were nothing like those we are used to in Miami.  Being so overwhelmed with the excitement of arriving, I didn't notice the temperature, but as time went on it got so cold. To keep warm, we took part in the Bear Creek Tradition of "fire hopping."  We would make our way from bonfire to bonfire, warming ourselves with more than just the fire.  

I was quite distracted by all the interesting characters in attendance at this festival until I heard the music through the trees. It was Umphrey's McGee, and I was still in the campground. I gathered the troops and headed for the music. From what I can remember it was a rocking set, but I heard Thursday's performance was stellar. The night seemed to end there, but I do remember a hill with 30 fiber optic lamps that looked like mushrooms sprouting from the ground. There were also lasers beaming patterns that danced on the ground where I was told there was to be a party the following night. I then bundled up and fell asleep. 

My feet were frozen when I woke up, and it was still freezing in the morning. I got up and got myself a warm tea from a friendly vendor playing awesome morning music. I walked around to stretch my achy body looking for Crispy (of WVUM) and the Cornerstoners (a local Miami band). I stumbled upon Snuggleville, home to some very friendly campers. They had an awesome Snuggleville banner, which reminds me: flags, banners, etc. are great for music festivals so you don't get lost. 

Inside Snuggleville I met some older folks who live in a commune outside of Tallahassee. They were so welcoming and refilled my empty cup with hot coffee. I even got the leftovers of someone's breakfast sandwich! I then returned on the quest to find my friends from Miami. Finally, I found them, still sleeping, but didn't hesitate to wake them up. They were thankful for the wake-up call and prepared some sun chips and hummus. After a few turkey sandwiches, we set off for the music. It warmed up to around 75 degrees during the day and it was beautiful! At the Dead Kenny G's my friend Alanna (from the Cornerstoners) sat in on the drums. It was fantastic! We roamed around and checked out the vendors and the day was grand. The next thing I know I'm standing before the Bonobo Live Band. It was amazing to see them live, and the DJs' in-between sets were awesome. Following Bonobo was The New Deal and I don't think I stopped dancing the entire time. They may be simple, but they do what they do really well. LETTUCE was the band I was most excited to see and everybody got down. They played a lot from their recently released album, Rage! After the show I returned to the campground and eventually went to sleep after the party at the fiber optic hill was broken up because of loud music. 

The next morning I was so cold I walked into the sunshine and passed out in a sweatshirt and sweatpants beside a peaceful group of people doing yoga. I wish someone would have taken a picture, I wasn't even on a mat.

There were tons of awesome music that day and so much that I missed the entire weekend. But my first Bear Creek experience was amazing, and I have fallen in love with the festival and location. The best part might have been that the wrist band I left on happened to be the same one that got me VIP to meet Iron and Wine last Thursday. 

Oh, and check out this Ziggy Stardust kid I found:

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