Electric Forest: Where music brings nature, people together
The days' dappled sunlight complemented the nights' glowing trees at this music festival near Lake Michigan.
Wed, Jul 03, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Photos: Anna Norris
In a perfect mix of nature and music, the Electric Forest music festival invited tens of thousands of attendees to stay on-site at Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Mich., for four days of dancing, camping and exploring — all the while keeping the Earth's needs in mind. From June 27-30, music- and nature-lovers alike basked in the sweet sunlight during the day and adventured into Sherwood Forest at night.
For these four days, the festival became an ecosystem of its own.
Whether you chose to hang out at your campsite or walk through the festival grounds, attendees had all of the elements to create their own adventure at Electric Forest.
Upon arrival, festivalgoers set up their camps in the vast fields of the ranch and then made their trek to the festival grounds.
Bright colors hinted at the world of adventure within the festival woods.
Where there were trees, there were hammocks. Day and night, people lounged as they listened to the far-off sounds of live electronic music, folk rock, bluegrass and more.
Among the interesting sights to see inside the forest were costumed characters and art installations.
The artists of the festival inspired a second look at everyday objects, inviting all to focus their creative energies on unexpected media.
Offering a sunny alternative to the forest, Big Wildcat Lake boasted scenic views and an open space to dance and picnic.
Signs like these highlighted the essence of the festival's environmental spirit:
"This past winter, Electric Forest identified a beetle infestation (the bug, not the band!) in a small but worrisome number of trees inside the central area of The Sherwood Forest. After much study, it was determined that in order to preserve the ecosystem, the only conservation management plan was to cut and remove all infected trees.
While we assist in the ongoing health of The Forest, the Festival is proud to put thoughtful, art-centered gathering spaces inspired by the very nature of the site in which they were constructed - namely the relocated Forest Stage and this brand-new Observatory Stage. Please enjoy these spaces in celebration, and with reverence of the potential perfect balance between humans and nature."
With a program called "Electric-ology," the festival encouraged all who attended to think about their impact on nature — and with redeemable EcoPoints at the Electricology Store, attendees could earn prizes like merchandise and tickets to next year's festival. Electric Forest staff made it easy to go green, with suggestions for a greener camping experience, biodegradable food service containers, clearly labeled recepticles, and a cigarette waste collection service.
The organized chaos of banging and drumming constantly drew crowds into the forest — but these were no ordinary percussions. The interactive exhibit highlighted the potential for reusing, and dozens of people stood in line to be a part of the musical pile of junk.
As evening approached, swarms of people surrounded the three main stages to commence hours of dancing.
Other attendees chose to sit in the soft grass by the many trees that framed the stages.
Showy symbols called "totems" signaled where members of groups were in the large crowds throughout the festival.
The literal electric forest allured festivalgoers to continue their fun late into the night.
As the night sky lit up with stars, so the forest lit up with neon hues.
Sherwood Forest, home to many strange sights and works of art, guided the festivalgoers from one stage to the another.
Glowing lanterns, interactive exhibits and performers lined the path through Sherwood Forest long after the end of the latest concerts.
From the connection with nature that we all achieve when camping to the ardent activities to reduce, recycle and inspire reusing, Electric Forest epitomized that "potential perfect balance between humans and nature."
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