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Friends of Nature Music Festival Launches With a Giant Beached Whale on Virginia Key

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As Ultra Music Festival uhntz-uhntzes away across Biscayne Bay, the Friends of Nature Music Festival has announced plans for its own cultural celebration at Virginia Key Beach Park combining music, comedy, art, film and more.

It's a gutsy move -- launching another big festival at the same park that was allegedly trashed by the Nine Mile Music Festival just a couple weeks ago. But FON Festival is making a clear statement about its intentions -- with a 29-foot whale sculpture that was "beached" seaside this morning.

The paper maché whale, designed by Miami artist Ernesto Damian in partnership with artist Roberto Sanchez, is made of donated New Times issues and intended to call attention to the plight of the North American Right Whale, one of the world's most endangered species. In fact, the focus of the FON Festival is, of course, preserving nature -- specifically the life of sea creatures.

"FON Festival was created with the idea of starting a movement to raise awareness about our planet and to push major companies to produce and promote more green products. We believe that we can still enjoy the things we love, we just simply have to make sure we are not being selfish with our planet," sais Ines Galindo, Co-Founder of FON Festival and Co-Owner of Eyeness Productions, in a statement.

The festival plans to feature 50 musicians, DJs, comedians, and guest speakers on two main stages with surrounding DJ tents, with a goal of attracting 40,000 attendees to its event in November. No acts have yet been announced, but organizers promise a range of music genres, from indie to dubstep to folk and jazz. Between sets, FON fest-goers will have access to camping, canoeing, watersports, movies on the beach, comedy shows, and live art installations. A variety of eco-friendly vendors will be set up at the site, and there'll be a designated area for environmental non-profit organizations to distribute information and solicit donations and volunteers.

And in keeping with its mission of saving the planet, 20 percent of the festival's net profit will go to the Ocean Preservation Society, the organization that produced the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, uncovering Japan's brutal whaling and dolphin hunting culture.

Today's launch at Virginia Key is just the beginning; FON Festival's promotional campaign continues this afternoon and evening at Shots Miami with a free show featuring Electrik Dread, Kēvens, Panic Bomber, Beatmachines, Thibault, Tremends, Luis Ponce, Uma Galera, and Dinosaurs N' Disasters. It's open from noon to midnight.

FON Fest is scheduled for November; no set date has been announced. Visit fonfest.com.

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

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