Sherwood Forest – The heart of Electric Forest.

June 26, 2016

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By Mark Lewis. Contributing Writer.

GRANT TOWNSHIP – Yes, people come to the Electric Forest Festival for the music.

But they stay for the forest.

A particular forest, in fact – Sherwood Forest, the sprawling stretch of art and display-enhanced woods that separates the festival’s Ranch Arena and Sherwood Stage.

Sherwood Forest debuted at the original ROTHBURY Festival in 2008, and it was an immediate hit. The forest has grown more awe-inspiring ever since.

“I keeps me coming back,” said Willow, an East Coast native. “The forest makes this place different from every other festival. Amazing doesn’t even begin to cover it.”

imageAs you enter the forest at night, you’ll notice that every few feet pockets of hanging, swaying art give off more than a subtle hint that you’re entering a bizarre, uncanny, and fantastic dreamscape straight from imaginations of the festival’s art crew.

“It’s kind of like a place everybody can imagine but never get to see with their own eyes,” said Josh, a college student in California.

“You’re thinking, ‘I can’t be seeing this.’ But there it is, staring you in the face.”

The multi-acre complex holds several stages and music areas – slightly lesser known DJs, jam and alt bands, and acoustic acts may be found playing throughout the forest on the Forest and Observatory stages. A variety of acting/music crews take many of the Sherwood Forest stages, sometimes without a set schedule, and often to spectacular results. One troupe trolled the crowed for several minutes pointing out a mysterious pod on the stage. Eventually, the crowd shouted for the pod to be opened, and what they found inside was as disturbing as it was unexpected – out came a young man wrapped up in plastic wrap, drooling and inquiring as whether or not he was “beautiful.” On his back were two malformed butterfly wings, one big and one small, as though he hadn’t had enough time to mature in the pod because the crowd demanded it be opened too soon.

For a less in-your-face encounter, the cerebral and spooky Silent Disco is located on the forest’s west side.

But even with all the stuff to do in Sherwood forest, let’s be honest – it’s the atmosphere that actually draws in people.

Bisected by three trails that run parallel to each other, the viewer is greeted to a variety of art installations along each path. The middle, main path usually has the largest examples, typically with some grand displays at either entrance and at the midway point, the latter smack dab in the center of the thoroughfare. Both the east and west paths, while less spectacular, invite the sojourner to venture deeper into the woods and check out what exactly is going on over there.

Which is exactly the point of the whole thing.

“The forest is Christmas in July,” said Jeff, a middle-aged guy from outside of Philadelphia.

“To us, the forest is unbelievable,” said Becky, Jeff’s wife. “It’s the most beautiful experience of the entire festival experience. The art is just incredible.”

Event organizers certainly have their work cut out for them; coming up with something fresh and new, without deviating too far from the formula, may prove difficult. Memories tend to grow rosier the older we get – so much so that returning to the forest in the future may prove a bit anticlimactic.

Or maybe Electric Forest, and Sherwood Forest, in particular, will continue to best our expectations.

“Every year it gets better,” said Jeff, a festival veteran. “We’ve spent most of the time our first day just looking around the forest, seeing what they’ve come up with this year.”

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