The leaves are drifting, the stickiness of humidity is fading and the crispy silence of fall is starting to wash over the night. This means one thing for devoted festival lovers: the fifth annual Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival (BCMF) is swiftly approaching! BCMF is a place where thousands of people gather together for a weekend of costumes, glow sticks, fire-throwing, s’more making, hula-hooping and appreciation of pure artistry. The event is held at the magical Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida and spans over a three day period, Friday November 11th through Saturday, November 13th, with “pre-party” passes starting on Wednesday and Thursday. This year is extra special as the festival falls on 11/11/11 and shimmering full moon, as well as the three-day weekend in honor of Veteran’s Day!
The Suwannee Music Park has over 500 acres of lush trees, a spring-fed lake and nature reserve. It offers camping, swimming, hiking, fishing, canoeing, disc golf, RV hook-ups, golf cart rentals, shower and bath houses, mini-golf and even a honey-bee exhibit and the world’s largest bat house. This ideal location allows thousands of attendees to camp in tent-families under the Spanish Moss draped branches, roast marshmallows on a flickering campfire, stroll dreamily around a gleaming lake, and hear their favorite live beats at the amphitheater stage planted right in the midst of a forest sanctuary.
“Suwannee Music Park is full of good vibes and BCMF just amplifies those vibes to the masses,” said Will Tucker, a multi-fest attendee, of his experience at the venue. “It’s just in time for the weather to be comfortable and the people treat you like you’re family.”
Bear Creek has become increasingly popular not only because of its great venue, but because of its consistent ability to bring an insurmountable crop of tunage to it’s fans. This year almost 100 artists are performing, even some with multiple sets. Electronic pioneers Big Gigantic, funky jam band Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, sex-rock sounds of Catfish Alliance, up-and-coming DJ SirCharles, Rubbelbucket’s upbeat instrumentals, and the soothing, sweet sounds of Zach Deputy are just a handful of the talent bursting at Bear Creek’s seams. Another 2011 addition is the Silent Disco Tent and Music Hall which will hold the late-night shows rocking all the way until nearly 5am. 1000 pairs of headphones will be distributed to all the musical insomniacs so they will not disturb the camping neighbors
It’s the overwhelming appreciation for art and music that keeps BCMF alive. People come from all over the country to take part in this giant family whose intentions are all the same: fascinating live artwork, undeniable music, tongue-dribbling food, and some of the friendliest, craziest, most eccentric people you’ll ever meet.
“I’ve been to Bear Creek for the past three years and the lineup never disappoints,” said Grace Norbeg, a dedicated Bear Creek fan. “It’s a well-organized weekend of feel-good music populated by positive people who are all there just to dance and have fun. Zach Deputy is my favorite artist that’s been there pretty much every year. He’s amazing because he uses a “looper” to record beats and melodies with a variety of different instruments to make an entire song all by himself on stage.”
In the spirit of Halloween and 11/11/11 Bear Creek is hosting themed costume parties for the very first time! “Warm and Fuzzy” is the theme for Friday night, encouraging attire such as spirits hoods, scarves, fur jackets, ear muffs, fuzzy boots, long johns, hats and the like. To honor the soldiers as well as the funky, Saturday night’s theme is appropriately named “Funk Soldiers Gone Wild.” At this party you will most likely see lots of glow sticks, tie-dye, bell-bottoms, fringe, knee-high disco boots, peace signs, flowers and psychedelic sunglasses.
With all the avid followers and additional perks and play, this year’s Bear Creek is bound to be biggest and the best. This success is largely due to BCMF’s dedicated staff.
“We have a very experienced staff that’s been working together, for some people, more than five years,” said Paul Levine, an integral founder of the festival. “Everybody loves the show and loves each other. I think the way that we treat the public and our guests and the artists– you can just feel it in the experience! Everybody is VIP here.”
Enthusiastic leaders like Levine and the emphasis on great music makes this festival far more special than the rest.
“Bear Creek is well known for being a musician’s festival,” Levine said. “It’s a place where musicians come and feel very comfortable. They get to spend a lot of time with their friends and family because a lot of the bands are there for a couple days too. It’s a very relaxed family environment where the performers are as much a part of the crowd as the fans are! And because of thatrelaxed environment it translates into more interesting music and a more creative and less stressful environment where everybody gets to enjoy!”
Additional Festival Information:
This year’s BCMF memorabilia poster was created by Stanley Mouse, a psychedelic artist of the ‘60s best known for his Grateful Dead album work. A limited number of artist signed posters will be available for purchase. Bring 5 canned goods or non-perishable food items to the WET volunteer tent for the annual Suwannee Valley Food Bank Drive and receive a commemorative poster free! Check out bearcreekmusicfestival.com for more details on posters, schedules, tickets and the line-up.
Tickets are available online at bearcreekmusicfestival.com for $165 general admission and $350 for VIP (kids 12 and under are free). In commemoration of the Veteran’s holiday all active and retired military can upgrade their 3-day pass to a 4-day pass completely free of charge.