A little background on the festivals attended in 2018
Started out the festival season with the one and only Electric Forest. Electric Forest takes place in Rothbury, Michigan at Double JJ Ranch. It was started in 2008 as what was once known as Rothbury Festival. The festival now has an estimated 45,000 attendees, with a music focused of electronic and jam band genres. Forest has 7 elaborate stages and hundreds of performers. The music at electric forest has transformed over the years, but the spirit of the forest stays the same. The festival really is one of a kind. The festival site is one enormous art installation where different artists from around the world come to take part. The visual art is really just as important to the festival as the music. One can try to explore it all, but in just one weekend it’s impossible to see it all. The festival grounds offer trails, forests, fields, lakes, and beachfronts, as well as lodging, bars and eateries. Want more excitement? Well, there’s also an indoor water park, golf course, swimming pools, and horseback riding. From the festival site to the music you’re definitely in for an amazing experience, but to be honestly the festival would be nothing without the energy that temporary resides there. The real magic of the forest comes from within.
As a resident of Grand Rapids, Cow Pie Music Festival was a short 20 minutes from home. Located in Caledonia, Michigan at Shagbark Farms. Shagbark Farms is a fully functioning pastoral farm, home to happy cows, and the wonderful host Farmer John Crissman. Crissman started this festival over 15 years ago originally as a blue festival. Over the years has grown larger hosting a wider range of music. It was great seeing so many familiar faces as well as all my favorite local bands. The grounds now has two stages, not including the legendary stage on wheels that travels through the grounds. Not only a festival of great music, but family fun as well. Pony rides are available for the kids as well as a craft tents, games and more. BONUS kids under the age of 12 get in for FREE. Amazing art vendors for shopping and food vendors for eating. There are workshops to attend and fire spinners for nighttime entertainment. The main stage is located at the bottom of a hill so no matter where you stand or sit you in for a great view. I still laugh to myself when I think of everyone screaming ‘COW PIE’ to each other as they walk by.
From the largest festival in Michigan to one of the smallest, Beaver Island was one of the most unique. You must arrive by boat or plane. We took the ferry out of Charlevoix, Michigan. The ferry takes about two and half hours cruising through beautiful lake Michigan. Depending on your arrival or departure time you might be blessed with musical performance on the ferry. The island is small, but very beautiful. There are roughly 2,000 residents during the summer season leaving only around 200 who stay year round. The Beaver Island Music Festival offers free shuttles to town during the day so guests can explore the island. The downtown has a variety of museums and art galleries to explore, as well as water sport rentals, dining and more. Camping at the festival is just a short walk from the stage and vendors. Most of the musical talent are local musicians from right here in Michigan. Very laid back and family friendly atmosphere, so pull up a lawn chair or say hi to the friendly beaver that makes its way through the festival. Each night there is a bonfire to gather around. If that’s not enough, get ready for some spectacular stargazing because friends you aren’t on the mainland anymore.
The Wheatland Music Festival is a music and arts festival that takes place in Remus, Michigan. The festival is organized by the Wheatland Music Organization, a non-profit organization specializing in the preservation and presentation of traditional arts and music. Wheatland was by far the most family friendly festival all summer. Growing up in Michigan I cannot believe I went 24 years without ever attending this one. This festival becomes a yearly tradition for most of its’ attendees. From workshops to polka dancing there’s so much fun to be had. Guests are encouraged to become apart of the festival. One of the largest drum circles I’ve ever seen was at Wheatland. Anyone is welcome to join in the beat, just bring your drum and join in. The children play a huge part in the festival as well. A large craft tent is open for those kiddos that want to share their art. For those aspiring musicians, well there welcome to perform too. Wheatland is truly such an inspirational and supportive community of artists coming together. A festival for the artist, by the artist.
Resonance was the longest commute we made summer 2018. We drove roughly five hours to Legend Valley in Ohio. From everything to the number of attendees, to how they organize the festival grounds, Resonance is set up to have all of the huge pros that smaller festivals offer. Spectacular sprawling fields and plenty of space to camp, right near the action. Guests can enjoy workshops as well as shopping from a great selection of vendors. A perfect way to kick-start fall. Another amazing festival for the artists, by the artists. There is quite a collection of top tier talent, establishing itself as one of the leading midwest festivals. The live painters and fire performers fill in around the mainstage never leaving a dull moment. This festival truly nevers sleeps. Campsites filled with artists connecting and collaborating. Fuel from the always popping Disco Pizza, and of course an amazing sunrise set. For anyone who has not had the pleasure to see a Tipper sunrise set, it is an absolute must. Tipper’s sunrise sets will leave you with a feeling of inner peace that will be unforgettable.
Willowsong festival held on 20 acre Willowsong farm in Sidney, Michigan. This was the second year for it and I have to say they have done a really nice job. If you like camping, relaxing, and great local talent you do not want to miss out on Willowsong next year. With only one stage there is plenty of time to kick back and enjoy yourself. A large bonfire was held every night with a view of the stage. Amazing BBQ and a small selection of craft vendors present. This festival is very family friendly and perfect for first time festival goers.
Sacred Vibrations, located in Shelby, Michigan is also in its second year. Because of the incredible lineup, it is growing rather quickly. There was a huge tent set up near the mainstage where over 20 live paintings where set up. Now almost every festival I attended had live painters, but not like this. They were all in one space, working side by side. How inspiring to see so many different artists at work. Walking through the tent was like walking through a gallery, each artist a totally different style and technique. They even had a small stage where late night sets were held amongst the artist.