Electric Forest an event for the young…and the not-so young

June 29, 2015

IMG_3348Electric Forest Festival coverage is sponsored by Springstead Law Offices, with locations in Hart and Fremont, 231-873-4022 (Hart),www.springsteadlaw.com.

By Mark Lewis. OCP Contributing Writer.

GRANT TWP. – Looking from afar, the fifth-annual Electric Forest Festival may appear to be an event best left to young people. But you don’t have to look too far to find people slightly outside of the festival’s presumed age-range.

You just have to know where to look.

The first place you’ll find them is in the festival’s premium lodging area. Labeled ‘The Good Life’ and ‘Back 40’, the premium packages that provide an “enhanced festival experience,” reads the Electric Forest website – meaning you are closer to the festival grounds, and your accommodations are most certainly cleaner.

Even in the RV portion of the general admission campground, which sits just west of Water Road, there’s very little dust, and things are relatively quiet.

It is there you’ll find Becky and Jeff, a middle-aged couple from just outside Philadelphia who make it to around five festivals per year. Becky, an occupational therapist with her own clinic, and Jeff, a teacher, have chosen to head west six times to attend Electric Forest/ROTHBRUY.

“We can’t believe there aren’t more people our age who come because it’s a blast,” said Becky. “Everybody treats us really well.”

Admittedly, the couple comes for the more-jam band elements of the festival, including three-night headliners The String Cheese Incident, and less so for the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) portion of the lineup. Nevertheless, the festival’s reputation as nothing more than an excuse for college kids to take drugs and stare at the elaborate light shows, or perhaps for more nefarious activities, said Jeff, is way overblown.

“The locals have told us about some crazy stuff, but it’s pretty calm, great atmosphere,” he said. “Everybody is here to enjoy the music. And if you enjoy music, this is heaven.”

Age does have its advantages – Case in point, Jason Hann, String Cheese’s auxiliary percussionist, stopped by their site on the opening night of the festival to munch on some s’mores. That’s not the kind of thing that happens all that often in the farther reaches of the general admission campground.

Deep in its recesses, the general admission campground contains a few
brave, older souls set who up camp with the younger folks. And some of them wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Hell no do I want to be over with them in the Good Life or whatever,” said Jim, a Chicago-native who stopped counting birthdays after he turned 50. He figures that “was a good 12 years ago.” He insists there’s no reason to blow a bunch of money on a nice bed when everyone goes for the music. “Besides, all the fun’s back here.”

Nevertheless, after a three-hour wait to get into the festival grounds on Thursday night, Becky and Jeff are considering making the move to premium tickets (which means they needn’t wait in the general admission lines to get into the festival).

“We are thinking about maybe doing the Good Life or something like that if it makes it easier to get in,” said Jeff. “But we’ll wait and see.”

Before they have to make that decision, though, the couple has tickets for the Grateful Dead’s first-of-a-five-nights stand, the band’s last such engagement, Friday night in Chicago. “It’s going to be excellent,” Becky said with a smile.

But, still thinking of Electric Forest, Becky encouraged older folks to consider checking out Electric Forest for themselves.

“We would encourage getting the word out,” she said. “We can’t believe there aren’t more people here our age.”

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