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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Suwannee Hulaween attracts more people than last year

<p class="p1">Performers play on stage at the Suwannee Hulaween 2014 music festival on Sunday night. The event was held at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.</p>

Performers play on stage at the Suwannee Hulaween 2014 music festival on Sunday night. The event was held at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

“When I say ‘Hula,’ you say ‘Ween,’” sang the man in a rainbow unicorn outfit.

“Hula,” he said.

“Ween,” roared the crowd.

The Suwannee Hulaween 2014 music festival, held at The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, attracted about 15 percent more people than it did the first year in 2013, according to marketing director Teena Peavey.

The event featured more than 50 musical performers, as well as yoga and hoop dance workshops, visual artists, food vendors, a disc golf tournament and a Ferris wheel.

“People are here from all over the country,” she said. “Over the weekend, we’ve had an average of 25,000 people at the park, all who come in search of different things.”

To Jenni Thompson, a 23-year-old live painter from St. Petersburg, Suwannee Hulaween is simply “home.”

“There’s a power in the ground here,” she said as she added paint to her brightly colored abstract painting. “It just draws you — makes you keep coming back.”

Quinten Finnell, who assisted Thompson with the painting, said he agreed.

“I just love Suwannee and the familiar feelings it gives me,” the 26-year-old from Tampa said. “This was my first Hulaween, but I’ve been to Suwannee four times so far just in this past year.”

Peavey said although there is a large part of the crowd from Florida and its surrounding cities, many of the attendees are from other states.

Gabe Morgan said he didn’t think twice about driving from Illinois to satisfy his hunger for the lights and acoustics of The String Cheese Incident.

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“I couldn’t miss String Cheese. They’re amazing. Everything about this place is amazing,” Morgan said. “The sound system, the people — It’s all f*****g amazing.”

Olivia Rayner, a stilt walker with the Amazing Giants from Columbus, Ohio, said she would describe her first Hulaween experience as “beautiful,” saying the festival has one of the best crowds she has seen.

“We had never been to the music park before, but we had heard great things,” she said. “Now we’re here and have seen firsthand. The energy is just so high.”

Peavey said that the energy and excitement for Halloween celebration is really what makes Hulaween stand out from other music festivals.

Kirsten Bonnin, a 30-year-old mother from Pensacola, said she thinks the weekend is a great place to celebrate Halloween right.

“It’s a place where everyone is dressing up and celebrating and enjoying,” Bonnin said as her 5-year-old daughter Gretchen, who brought eight costumes for the weekend, danced to the music around a lit hula hoop. “The way I think about it is that at home, Halloween is just an hour and a half of trick-or-treating, but here you get to really go and experience it.”

[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 11/1/2014]

Performers play on stage at the Suwannee Hulaween 2014 music festival on Sunday night. The event was held at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

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