BLM Shuts Down Skooliepalooza 2022
Skooliepalooza is an annual skoolie and nomadic community building event. It has a focus on skoolie and bus conversion owners in the Arizona desert held every January or February. The annual camping event began in 2017 near Quartzite, Arizona. In those days, it was an offshoot of the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous gathering of RV nomads.
It takes amazing creativity to convert the space in an empty bus into a home on wheels. They often have all the amentities of a sticks-and-bricks. But skoolies add one more amenity: freedom. The freedom to travel, follow the sun, or just head wherever the wind blows.
This year’s Skooliepalooza attendees were an eclectic mix of creative, nomadic people. The event welcomes van dwellers and pretty much anyone with a home on wheels. The week-long event features music, arts and crafts vendors, and skoolie-related workshops. It’s a really laid-back celebration of creativity and the nomadic lifestyle.
This year, organizers changed venues from the location near Quartzite to a location close to Parker, Arizona. The location was actually across the state border on a BLM site in Big River, California.
Trouble started within days of the arrival of the first Skooliepalooza attendees. People were just settling in when police arrived to evict the entire event. The problem was that no one had taken out the required permit for a large event at the site. Over a thousand campers had to be moved immediately. Organizers quickly found a new site 64 miles away near Quartzite, Arizona.
The exodus between sites was reported to be the longest caravan of skoolies, vans, and campers ever seen. More than 500 vehicles followed each other from Big River to Quartzite.
What has for six years been an entirely organic event where ‘everyone did their part’ to make it as it was, has grown to a much larger event attended by more than just skoolies, with some coming to party and some looking to cause trouble. The sheer number of attendees alone requires better planning for future events whether on public (by permit) or private land we have to do better, as event planners and as a community.Skooliepalooza, Facebook
Initially, attendees were riled at the inconvenience of having to relocate to the new site. But like pilgrims on a great communal voyage, the experience was embraced as an epic event that will never happen again.
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