Gathering of the Juggalos

Juggalo by Carlos Patino

The Gathering of the Juggalos is an annual festival put on by Psychopathic Records, featuring performances by the entire label roster as well as numerous well-known musical groups and underground artists. It was founded by Robert Bruce, Insane Clown Posse (Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler), and their label in 2000.

Described by Joseph Bruce as a ‘Juggalo Woodstock’ (‘Juggalo’ being a nickname for fans of the Insane Clown Posse, a Detroit rap group), the Gathering of the Juggalos spans five days and includes concerts, wrestling, games, contests, autograph sessions, karaoke, and seminars with artists. Over its first eleven events, the festival has drawn an attendance of about 107,500 fans.

The first Gathering took place in Novi, Michigan at the Expo Center and lasted for two days, with over 7,000 fans in attendance. While performing on the final night, Insane Clown Posse asked the Juggalos to join them onstage, and about 300 fans rushed onto the stage. After performing for almost 30 more minutes, the concert was abruptly stopped by the venue’s management. The second Gathering of the Juggalos was held in Toledo, Ohio at the Seagate Center for three days, with approximately 6,600 in attendance. Outside artists included Three 6 Mafia, Vanilla Ice, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Like the previous year, hundreds of fans charged the main stage during Insane Clown Posse’s performance. However, this time the group was forced to flee the stage before it collapsed.

The third annual Gathering of the Juggalos was held in the Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois for four days, with over 8,000 in attendance. Bubba Sparxxx was booed offstage and has since left a mark on future Gatherings, as acts sharing similar fates have been said to receive the “Bubba Sparxxx award.” Esham announced at the event that he had signed with Psychopathic Records. The Sixth Joker’s Card was unveiled in two separate seminars, ‘The Wraith: Shangri-La’ and ‘Hell’s Pit,’ given by Violent J. The Sixth Joker Card is part of The Dark Carnival, an afterlife described by Insane Clown Posse in much of their discography. This concept is the primary source of inspiration for Insane Clown Posse’s two series of albums called Joker’s Cards, each containing six albums. A riot occurred after police tried to stop Juggalettes from showing their breasts. The police released tear gas and pepper balls into the surrounding crowd, causing mass confusion. Psychopathic Record employees Rob Bruce and Alex Abbiss negotiated with police, and the festival continued after airing out for 30 minutes.

In 2003, the Gathering was held outdoors for the first time. The event took place at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, known as ‘the Crystal Forest,’ near Garrettsville, Ohio in Nelson Township, and lasted five days. It was also the first time the festival went on for 24 hours every day. Guest performers included Killah Priest. The fifth annual Gathering of the Juggalos returned to Garrettsville the following year, with over 5,000 in attendance. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Kurupt, Tech N9ne, and Wolfpac were among those who performed. The Gathering of the Juggalos returned to Garrettsville for a third time in 2005. Guest performers included 2 Live Crew and Powerman 5000. Charlie Murphy was also brought in as one of the stand-up comedians. The Gathering hosted the final round of the Underground Psychos contest, in which the winner, Axe Murder Boyz, was signed to Psychopathic Records. Quarry Park’s owner, Evan Kelley, kicked the festival off his grounds later that year. He stated that, ‘Psychopathic Records broke some of the rules set down for the 2005 event, including blasting music all night long.’ He also explained that, ‘Drugs, alcohol, nudity, profanity and trash also became serious problems.’

The seventh annual Gathering of the Juggalos was set to take place in Brooklyn, Michigan, however, the board of Woodstock Township, Michigan denied the label the permits needed to hold the event. Psychopathic Records announced that the Gathering would be held in Pataskala, OH at Frontier Ranch. The festival featured over 100 bands. Those playing at the main and second stages included Drowning Pool, Digital Underground, Rehab, and Too $hort. Cave-In-Rock, Illinois hosted the eighth Gathering of the Juggalos at Hogrock Campgrounds, with over 8,000 fans attending the four day event. Like the previous year, over 100 bands were featured. Performances on the main and second stages included Ying Yang Twins, Necro, and Insane Poetry. Comedians included Joey Gay. Since the 2007 event, every Gathering has been held at Hogrock Campgrounds.

The ninth Gathering of the Juggalos included guest performances Afroman, Andrew W.K., Ice-T, and Bizarre. The tenth Gathering of the Juggalos had the largest attendance in Gathering history with over 20,000 people. Over 120 musical artists performed at the event, including Ice Cube, Gwar, Coolio, and Scarface. Stand-up comedians included Jimmie Walker and Pauly Shore. In honor of the Western comedy film ‘Big Money Rustlas’ being released at the event, the eleventh Gathering of the Juggalos featured a ‘Best in the West’ West Coast hip hop theme. Guest performances include Naughty by Nature, Spice 1, Method Man & Redman, Above the Law, and Warren G. Comedy was provided by Tom Green, Gallagher, and Ron Jeremy.

The twelfth event debuted the use of a celebrity host for each night’s main stage with Dustin Diamond, Jumpsteady, Charlie Sheen, and Flavor Flav. Guest acts included artists Busta Rhymes, Mystikal, Juvenile, Lil Jon, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Saliva, Ice Cube, Xzibit, and Paris. The thirteenth annual gathering featured Tech N9ne, The Pharcyde, Soulfly, Fear Factory, Cheech & Chong, Danny Brown, Slaine, & the Geto Boys. In addition to musical concerts, the Gathering of the Juggalos features multiple activities. Throughout the site there are carnival rides, Midway Games, and helicopter rides. Other events include Juggalo Karaoke, an Open mic, comedy, ladies oil wrestling, a wet T-shirt contest, a Ms. Juggalette competition, and Hog Daddy’s Hellfire (a bonfire). Autograph signings and seminars are held by Juggalo Championship Wrestling, Mike E. Clark, Axe Murder Boyz, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Anybody Killa, Boondox, Twiztid, and Insane Clown Posse.

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