The idea of Skooliepalooza was founded and created in 2016 by Don Redman. The first Skooliepalooza was set to take place in 2017. Unfortunately, Don’s bus broke down and he was not able to attend. In early 2017, skooliepalooza.com was created by Nick and Russ who attended and ended up organizing the first Skooliepalooza. The correlated social media accounts were also created (Twitter, Facebook group, Instagram, FB Page (2019), Youtube).
As Dan was unable to attend, Nick and Russ ended up being the organizers of the first Skooliepalooza and in 2019, Dan officially relinquished leadership of the event. Nick and Russ then took over running each annual AZ Skooliepalooza as well as additional gatherings in Nevada for 2021 and 2022. Further in an effort to protect their efforts Russ trademarked “Skooliepalooza” and in 2020, the trademark was granted. In 2022, Nick and Russ then planned a Skooliepalooza in California.
2022 like all Skooliepalooza’s in AZ was organized in the spirit of an Ungathering. Unfortunately, California rangers are more strict than Arizona Rangers and they dispersed the gathering as an unsanctioned event. Thus, the great migration of 2022 that led to what may have been a world record breaking caravan back to Arizona.
When we heard of the mishap we considered an offer to help. After some discussion we offered to volunteer as we have been part of the Skoolie/Nomad communities for many years.
And then what…
Around May of 2022, Nick and Russ reached out to us and asked us to become operational organizers. The idea was that Nick and Russ would step back into a more of oversight (think Board of Directors) role and we would be the boots on the ground. As 2022 moved forward, Nick and Russ realized that our visions were aligned and that as a whole, the future of Skooliepalooza was more than what it was in the past.
Unfortunately, some long time members of the community disagreed and started creating divisive commentary. This lead to a series of unfortunate disconnects with the community, some people being banned from collaboration spaces and Nick/Russ deciding that they were no longer welcome within their own community.
Nick and Russ then asked us if we would be willing to take over entirely. We said we would be happy to volunteer and as time went on (a short time), they realized we had a passion and patience for organizing communities. They then offered to allow us to purchase the Trademark of Skooliepalooza(R) to which we agreed. Thus the messaging of Ungathering came to fruition.
In 2023, there are two Skooliepalooza gatherings, the 2023 Ungathering which took place in January and the near Moab gathering in October. The performance of 2023 Ungathering is a testament to the future of this community. With an estimated size of 5x the showing of 2022, it shows that when you put “just a drop” (as a community member portrayed to us at the Ungathering) of structure and organization, that everybody will have a positive and productive experience.
We received an enormous amount of positive feedback about the 2023 Ungathering, some strong but limited negative feedback (unleashed dogs) and a lot of constructive feedback. Thank you for supporting the community and thank you to all of the volunteers for being the awesome warriors you are.
For the most part, Skooliepalooza is and always will be an organic event of-and-by the community. Even when considering ticketed events, it is the attendees that make the events the fantastic experience that they are. That does not mean the events are unorganized, only that it is the attendees that drive what happens at the events.
It is our hope and goal to provide a safe, inclusive and fun events in the Nomad space while keeping true to our 3 rules.
- Be Nice
- Leave No Trace
- Pay it Forward