Paul Levine, now the music park’s festival promoter, worked with the band while living in Colorado and kept in touch with its members.
“I couldn’t have hoped for a greater opportunity for the park and for the fans of String Cheese, because I’m certain this is going to be an incredible Halloween,” Levine said.
String Cheese Incident is hosting “Hulaween,” a Halloween-themed festival, from Thursday night through Saturday night. It is the second festival the park has added this year, following the February addition of Aura Music and Arts Festival.
“As the legend of this place grows and more and more events happen here, more and more people are coming here for the first time,” Levine said. “ …It’s hard to leave here and not know what an incredible venue it is.”
The park has experienced exponential growth due to increased events, attendance and improved musical lineups across the board, Levine said, adding that event organizers are drawn to the venue because of its built-in infrastructure and trustworthy, experienced staff.
“People know what to expect when they come here as musicians and that there’s no stress for them,” he said. “They know the stages are in the right places and they know the people who work here know what they’re doing.”
Levine also attributed the park’s appeal to its “picturesque” grounds with big oaks and Spanish moss that border the Suwannee River.
“There are some venues that sell tickets on their own regardless of who’s playing and the Spirit of the Suwannee is one of those places,” he said. “People like to come here just on the weekend when there’s nothing going on, because it’s such a wonderful place to experience nature.”
The Spirit of the Suwannee hosts crowds in excess of 600,000 guests annually, according to the music park’s CEO James Cornett. He said the park’s larger shows attract audiences as large as 20,000 guests.
“One of the benefits of tourism on our economics is people come in, they spend money, they rent hotel rooms, they eat at restaurants, they buy gas, they go to Walmart and then they leave,” he said. “You don’t have to build roads for them, you don’t have to build schools for them, they simply come, enjoy themselves and leave their economic impact on the community.”
Live Oak Mayor Garth Nobles said he looks forward to the park adding more shows to its lineup in 2014. Nobles is also a member of the Suwannee County Tourist Development Council and said his organization donates money to the park’s promotional programs whenever possible.
He said the park’s bed tax, which is based on occupancy, goes straight back to the Tourist Development Council.
“Any time you expand your activities and events, it’s a great way to get additional people into our area,” he said. “The park has a tremendous impact on our city and the surrounding communities.”