Health advocates give advice for safe music festival experience


File Photo.

Brendan Heffernan

As the BUKU Music + Art Festival makes its return to New Orleans after a two-years long pandemic hiatus, concert goers are looking for ways to enjoy the festival while keeping themselves and others safe.

Molly Sullivan, sociology and Spanish junior, works as a Loyola contact tracer and is a member of Loyno Health Advocates, a student organization that provides public health resources and safety information to the student body. Sullivan said the single most important thing people looking to enjoy BUKU safely can do is get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.

Sullivan said that getting tested and bring along a mask are other important steps concert goers can take to mitigate their risk of spreading COVID-19

“If you’re not feeling well and you still want to go, of course, everyone understands that, but get tested as soon as you’re not feeling well,” Sullivan said. “​​And even though it’s not required, I’d bring a mask. You might be in a super crowded area and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘whoa, like there’s a lot, a lot of people around me, like I want to be safe right now, I want to be extra cautious.’”

While Sullivan said that the pandemic is “still very real”, Sullivan said that fully vaccinated concert goers who aren’t experiencing symptoms don’t have too much to worry about.

“When you’re outside and it’s an outdoor music festival, the chances of spread are a lot lower and mitigation factors are a lot better,” she said. “Enjoy your time, enjoy the great concert that we get to have like Tyler, the creator is coming, that’s amazing!”

Still, Sullivan there are other dangers festival goers should prepare for. She said that there are proactive steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting lost, becoming dehydrated, overconsuming drugs or alcohol, and being victimized by sexual assault.

Sullivan said people should also stay in groups to avoid dangerous situations and write down the phone numbers of friends and emergency services so they can use someone else’s phone to call for help if their phone dies on festival grounds. Sullivan also said that festival attendees should bring along a water bottle, a portable phone charger and drink coverings that prevent people from spiking your drink.

While pepper spray, tasers, and other personal defense items aren’t allowed inside the festivals, personal alarms are allowed and can be highly effective at keeping you safe, especially in a large crowd.

BUKU allows attendees to bring clear 12″ x 6″ x 12″ bags, hip packs, clutches or hydration packs with them onto festival grounds and while they dont allow outside beverages of any kind the festival will provide free water bottle refilling stations, according to the festival’s website.

While BUKU explicitly prohibits the consumption of illegal drugs on festival grounds, music festivals have long been associated with recreational drug use. Local safe drug use advocacy group Trystereo delivers harm reduction supply kits that can include Fentanyl testing strips, Narcan, and sanitizing products to people across southeast Louisiana. Community members can text 504-535-4766 to set up a delivery.

LUPD’s amnesty line also exists to help students who’ve overconsumed drugs or alcohol receive medical attention without facing punitive conduct charges. The number for the line is 504-865-3434.