Well, that was wild. Celebrating its 25th installment, West Palm Beach’s Moonfest brought out the bizarre side of South Florida on Saturday night, with attendees from all walks of life coming out in costume and braving the rain for the annual event.
Featuring three stages of music, a major costume contest and countless Halloween-themed attractions, the ambience of Moonfest is nearly indescribable. It was impossible to walk 10 feet without finding a new band to check out, being tempted by an enticing cuisine, or encountering the new coolest costume of the night.
Unfortunately, the big story of the night wasn’t the musicians onstage or the eccentric costumes in the crowd, but the torrential downpour that blanketed the revelry. West Palm Beach was pounded with rain for the entirety of the event, which ran from 8 p.m. into the wee hours of the morning. Many ticketholders chose not to attend because of the inclement weather, and some who did show up spent much of the night huddled in groups under awnings or looking for shelter in one of Clematis Street’s many restaurants and bars.
Though attendance may not have been as high as previous years, the crowd that did show up was dedicated. Lots of attendees had been to Moonfest many times in the past, and told me they wouldn’t miss it no matter the weather conditions. The most enthusiastic participants didn’t even attempt to stay dry, accepting the fact that they would get drenched and dancing the night away in the rain.
Luckily, the weather didn’t seem to have much impact on the logistics of the festival, with the music, lights, and vendors running at full force throughout the night. An impressively well-managed event, Moonfest featured 15 musical acts performing across three different stages throughout the night, making it impossible to catch them all. The sound was booming at the 100 Block’s muddy EDM stage all night, and the 500 Block’s main stage featured a light show that only got better as the rain came down.
This year’s headlining act, West Palm locals Surfer Blood, came onstage in costume and didn’t seem fazed by the remarkably small crowd. Frontman JP Pitts was dressed as Harry Potter, dropping references to the children’s book series throughout the set, while lead guitarist Mike McCleary wore a Marty McFly costume that was faithful down to his replica Nikes and hoverboard leaning against his amp. Though they only played to a crowd of roughly 50 people, Surfer Blood didn’t falter, giving the committed fans in attendance a lively 70-minute set that ended at 2:30.
Though the terrible weather put a major damper on an otherwise fun night, Moonfest was well run and brought together a charismatic and amiable group of people. I’ll be back next year to support this local festival again, and here’s hoping it stays dry next time.
Moonfest is a nonprofit event, with proceeds this year benefitting eight different charitable causes.