The 20th anniversary of the Gathering of the Juggalos went down this weekend at Lawrence County Recreational Park in Springville, Indiana. The fact that the infamous festival, produced by the rap group Insane Clown Posse, happened more than once is incredible; that it has happened 20 times consecutively is an absolute miracle.
In a world of lawsuits and release forms, the Gathering of the Juggalos has managed to persist as a four-day festival of lawlessness and liability. Open-air drug-selling, an unsanctioned bare-knuckle boxing tournament, public nudity, professional-grade fireworks set off in the crowd by drunk clowns, live sex shows and transportation provided by a circling flatbed truck that juggalos jump on and off at random create an atmosphere that has to be seen to be believed.
Throughout the chaos, juggalos exist as a clown-painted contradiction, screaming “fuck the world!” on one end and helping their fellow juggalo if someone does end up taking too many drugs or sustaining some sort of injury. Juggalos were once foolishly listed as a “loosely organized gang” by the FBI, but no festival has the love of community and “family” like the Gathering of the Juggalos.
Insane Clown Posse’s final night set ended with juggalos setting fire to picnic tables, chairs, and anything that wasn’t tied down as other juggalos lamented about “goddamn juggalos” that were going to get the festival kicked out of another city. As the fire burned and the festival came to an end, juggalos gathered ‘round the fire and paraphrased a popular pro wrestling chant: “We fucked up! We fucked up!”
Here’s a glimpse inside the chaos.