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Okeechobee Music Fest sold out, starts Thurs.

It's the biggest 4-day music festival on the Treasure Coast, produced by those who started Bonnaroo. The 2nd annual Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival hit a milestone Wednesday, selling out tickets in advance - all 40,000 of them.

In Okeechobee, businesses are stocked up and ready to go, with many stores piling up gear and supplies as if it were Black Friday.

Many businesses and gas station owners last year said they weren’t ready for the influx. Some gas stations even ran out of gas.

This year there’s even more people coming to town, and for taxpayers that’s a good thing - giving Okeechobee taxpayers a surplus.

The 2016 OMF sold-out festival brought an unprecedented increase in retail and hotel business, selling out every hotel room in a 2-hour radius for the duration of the festival.

The OMF community partnership initiatives also included cash donations of $52,000 to 3 partner nonprofits and county support of $78,000. OMF 2016 also created hundreds of local jobs and increased sales revenue to Okeechobee County and surrounding communities.

“We saw a jump,” said Paulette Bragel with Brown Cow Sweetery in downtown Okeechobee. "For 4 days, it puts our small tight knit community on the map and for what better reason than an arts and music festival.”

In its premiere event, the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, or OMF, was packed with close to 39,000 in attendance.

The great outdoor music festival is held on a campground like no other- with a beach, multiple stages, and a tent city.

"They were all shooting the peace sign and they created a new phrase - it was Love-ochobee,” said longtime Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper.

He and other county leaders worked with the event producers to improve on noise complaints from neighbors, traffic concerns, and to add manpower for security.

But the traffic brought to local businesses, was more than county leaders ever hoped for. OMF raised $1.5 million in local and sales tax revenue, with a record $16.4 million impact in just 4 days.

To replicate that impact, every man woman and child in Okeechobee County would have to spend $410 a day this weekend, or pay a 3-cent higher sales tax year round.

"I can’t think of a business that didn't benefit from this event," Culpepper said. “Walmart looked like Black Friday. Oh my gosh, you had to see it to believe it. The shelves looked like they were getting ready for a hurricane. They sold out on tents and camping gear and cases of water."

In fact, all retailers in the area beat their Black Friday sales. Oddly enough, so did car dealers. Race Trac gas station reported a $17,000 jump in sales in one day.

Brown Cow Sweetery sold hundreds of sandwiches and salads.

"And we can’t forget coffee drinks - that's another big one!” Bragel said, ready to beat their sales record during OMF 2017.

Some other numbers: 2016 OMF saw 40 arrests mostly for minor drug offenses.

For those complaining about noise, the county hired sound engineers to rotate the stages to keep the bass and noise levels as low as possible. Although that may be hard with Usher headlining the event.

Other groups like Kings of Leon, and Wiz Khalifa will grace the main stage this weekend.

Tickets are sold out.

For live updates and a schedule of shows: http://okeechobeefest.com/


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