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    Posted March 27, 2013 by
    St. Petersburg, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Weekends in America

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    Fest 11 - "It's like punk rock Christmas"

    FEST happens once a year in Gainesville during the last weekend of October, when all the frat dude bros and their dates leave town to attend "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" in Jacksonville. Some people call it the Florida Georgia game. Whatever, they are gone, and that's all that really matters, because the last weekend in October is for the drunks, the punks, the miscreants, the wayward souls and the passionate/obsessive out of control lunatics who make their mecca to a scene that welcomes them with open arms, cheap beer, loud music, and a lot of mistakes that make for the best memories.

    What began as a small music festival in 2001 has turned into an internationally renowned punk rock celebration that hosts hundreds of bands many have never heard of, and sometimes will never heard from again. Each year FEST gets bigger and gnarlier, yet it brings people together through music and a scene of self expression and open hearts who are truly passionate about the art of music.

    Unlike the larger, corporate festivals that host music superstars or buzz worthy up and comers, the FEST has always kept it simple and fun. There are no bonfires or tent cities or tie dye merch tents with Bob Marley flags and Dr. Seuss hats. There are no overpriced roller rink-style pizza food stands with $10 bottled water prices. It's handfuls of small clubs and basements and bookstores packed over capacity with sweaty, drunk, puke and blood- stained fans who left reality at home and sacrificed all they could just to be a part of the experience.

    It's not for the faint of heart.

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