I would recommend you read this piece not on its own, but as a part of the the Pushcart Prize anthology (2013 edition) that it appears in. And though I have a lot of criticisms about this essay, I think it's worth reading (despite the author's clear biases) partly because the author does a couple of things to redeem himself: 1) He purposefully exposes his own positionality and (some but not all) of his mistakes along the way, as well as his own complete lack of cool, 2) he makes a genuine attempt to be fair and objective to the juggalo community, to report on the insightful as well as the grotesque, 3) it's a short, entertaining piece that is easy to read and yet impressive enough that it won a major literary award.
That said, the piece did make me hot around the collar, not as a juggalo/juggalette (which I'm not), but as a Southern Illinoisan. I knew most of the local people he described, and he did not describe them in flattering terms, even though it sounded like he was treated humanely by all the townies he encountered. Nevertheless, he made it clear from beginning to end that he did not like the area he was in, and he went out of his way to describe everything and everyone he encountered in negative terms. (The people were either downright unsightly or "attractive in a midwestern way." The cave was not a geographical wonder to him, but a dank and smelly hole. No references at all to the sheer beauty of the place, and no cultural knowledge of the area whatsoever (besides a little cursory historical knowledge, which again, only served to highlight the negative: bandits, outlaws, and so on). He was not aware that he was as much in the South as he was in the Midwest. (Take a look at a map. Cave-in-Rock is further south than most of Kentucky, and as culturally southern as any Kentucky town.)
I kept waiting for him to have his big epiphany, to realize that he wasn't "getting it" because he was looking at the entire location (not just The Gathering, but the whole region and everyone in it) as ugly and alien. In the end he came off like a guy who went slumming and wrote a long journal entry about it, or, like a friend of mine said, "He's like one of those old-school anthropologists who goes to Tahiti and writes about the natives like they're creatures from another planet."
The sad thing is, you can tell by his writing that he really wants to be fair and objective, he is just so lacking in self-knowledge that he's not even aware of his own biases (namely, his profound coastal/regional snobbery). I recognized that he knows a thing or two about writing, but his perspective was shallow and off-putting. In the end I thought, "Wow. He'll be a really good writer someday, if he ever grows up."