For those not down with Shaggy 2 Dope or Violent J, Gathering of the Juggalos is the annual festival for fans of the Midwestern horrorcore rap duo Insane Clown Posse, or ICP. Going eleven years strong, this year's four-day Gathering was at Hogrock, IL, and our intrepid photographer Kiernan was in the thick of it. Brace yourselves for a wasabi-snorting contest, a dude getting punched in the junk as punishment, lots of face paint and Faygo, Faygo, everywhere.

Kiernan reported back:

The Gathering of the Juggalos is in the middle of nowhere! No internet connection, no cell signal, 35 miles from the closest hotel, an hour and a half from the nearest airport. Even the directions to the site are wrong. On The Gathering site the address that they give you is actually about 4 miles from where the event really is and there’s no signage anywhere to tell you that. Drove into Kentucky before I got on the right path. They list it as being in Cave-in-Rock, IL but it’s really at “Hogrock”. That’s the real name, not kidding (and of course, you have to drive past “Equality, IL” and “Muddy, IL” to get there. Crazy).

My first impression made me think of Vietnam, as I’ve seen it in war movies. There are people everywhere, in various states of undress - topless, naked, half dressed and back again - thousands of tents with people camping everywhere, fireworks going off, tons of bonfires burning, helicopters flying overhead… like nothing I’ve ever seen. The site itself is HUGE. The open air bars (although it’s all BYO and man, do they ever), the food area, the showers, the Experimental Stage, the Wolf Pac Stage, The First Aid area, the Main Stage, the Pro Wrestling Stage, the Midway with actual Carnival Rides, etc. It’s a city unto itself in the middle of nowhere. Think Woodstock meets Meth Lab. So… very intimidating at first.

But I have to say once I started to walk around and talk to people (and shoot them), I had an awesome time. The people were great, really nice and down to earth. Very approachable and soft-spoken even in many cases. Yes, many of them look sketchy and it’s easy to see why people think of them as they do, but really that’s surface and kind of low-hanging fruit. Judge not… right?

Appearances in many cases are deceiving and this group has essentially created their own universe/reality—in fact, the Juggalos & Juggalettes call themselves “The Family” and they get along well with each other. I didn’t see one fight (well, none that were unplanned) but I did see many people helping each other and sharing food, alcohol and other “substances” throughout the weekend.

Some “Wolf Pac” highlights: The Wasabi Snorting Contest, The Whiskey Funnel (a beer funnel, but with 6 oz. of Whiskey), “Blind” (blacked out goggle taped to their heads) Roller Skating Gladiator Fights, some random guy letting people kick him full force in his babymaker, a different guy, as punishment after losing the (alternating) “10 shots of Vodka/10 shots of Hot Sauce” contest, getting straight up punched in his junk, rappers, strippers & porn stars aplenty.

The music, sound and staging/professionalism of the Main Stage music was great - George Clinton & P-Funk, Vanilla Ice (super nice guy), Tech N9ne, Mystikal, Xzibit and of course Insane Clown Posse (aka ICP).

I have been to thousands of shows and I have never seen anything like ICP performing (I watched their whole show from the stage). They spray 2 liter bottles of Faygo soda non-stop throughout their performance—on themselves, the security guards, the audience—literally hundreds, if not thousands, of bottles, non-stop (they had an 18-wheeler backed up next to stage loaded with the stuff), no exaggeration. Their sound was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard, the bass beats just constantly vibrating my chest and making all of the liquid in the bottles backstage ripple like in the movie Jurassic Park when the dinosaur is walking. The vibrations from the music actually broke my camera—it doesn’t work at all anymore, the light just blinks (totally worth it). Mind blowing!

The celebs were all super friendly as well. Charlie Sheen was very personable (and completely lucid), taking photos and just generally enjoying the event and taking it in. Ron Jeremy (!) was there too, separate from Charlie although they knew each other and spent some time chatting and catching up. Also Vanilla Ice, Flavor Flav, Xzibit - it felt like the most surreal Summer Camp experience ever!