10 Magical Ingredients of Michigan’s Electric Forest Festival

Article by: Reisa Shanaman|@Reisa_Shanaman

Tue June 30, 2015 | 00:00 AM

It’s no easy task to sit down and sum up all that Electric Forest encompasses. A multi-sensory experience beyond compare, it’s a special place where the construct of time is relatively irrelevant, creations lead to revelations, and all of life is one big celebration. Home from the successful and sold-out 2015 edition, Fest300 managed to get our hands on the elusive formula for Electric Forest’s enchanted elixir. Be forewarned, ingestion may cause excessive amounts of enjoyment and side effects include a full heart and an open mind.

Three Dollops of Positivity

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On Thursday afternoon Dixon’s Violin reminded the crowd they were now in a “Be Yourself Zone.” Friday night saw Midnight Magic’s Tiffany Roth preach universal acceptance, and Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel purred out to their Saturday audience, “You guys are so beautiful”  – all the while totems that encouraged us to “Love Life” and promote “Good Vibes” bobbed overhead. Positivity is contagious and there was no shortage of it in Sherwood Forest.

Two Tablespoons of Levity

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A world away from reality and responsibilities, at Electric Forest utter absurdity abounds. Rainbow-clad stilt walkers and character actors roamed the grounds, acrobats, hot air balloons and bubbles floated through the air. A surreal, psychedelic circus/carnival combination, the event maintained an overall mood of lighthearted amusement.

Six Dashes of Imagination

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Like Charlie exploring the chocolate factory, attendees first wandered through the forest filled with curiosity, expressions of wonder on their faces. Taking in each unique and artful installation was an experience in and of itself, and one of the festival’s most exciting facets. Getting lost amongst the trees and letting your inner child run free was what the weekend was all about.

A Splash of Surprise

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There is so much more than meets the eye within this farcical forest. “Out-of-order” photo booths opened up to clandestine rooms. Bookshelves led to secret passageways, while doorways may go nowhere at all. Wishing wells, tree forts, saloons and silent discos were all waiting to be discovered by those who looked closely and curiously.

Combine with Music Over Medium Heat

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Whether there for the jamtastic sounds of String Cheese Incident, the funk-loving, vinyl-spinning of Soul Clap’s Crew Love, or Big Gigantic’s saxophone and drum-kit infused bass drops, this year’s lineup leapfrogged across genres and attracted a diverse crowd from happy-go-lucky hippies to hedonistic kandi kids.

Add Six Parts Nature

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Without the forest EF would still be electric, but it’s the setting itself that makes the event truly stand out; it really does feel charmed. Traipsing through the towering, LED-lit tree limbs we recalled Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, reminders of our own obligation to the environment.

Stir in Three Cups of Community

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Photo by: Electric Forest

Camping festivals force camaraderie and self-reliance. After settling in, it's common practice to introduce oneself to the new, temporary neighbors, and sharing resources is often of the essence. A microcosm of the world at large, camping brings forth the concept that we really are all in this together.

Sauté with Serendipity

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The ice truck driving by just as you express your cooler’s need for a refill; realizing the stranger you’ve struck up a conversation with is the previous occupant of the very bedroom you now reside in; a group of friends appearing right when you could use a familiar face. All these examples — which Fest300 experienced firsthand — indicate the oft-uttered sentiment “the forest provides” is anything but some empty epithet.

Immerse in Mindfulness

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Over 1,000 people showed up at noon for yoga with Hannah Muse each day. As lethargic clouds drifted across the sky, they sprawled out on mats in front of the Tripolee stage to begin their day in stillness, meditation and grounding, before hitting the ground running.

50,000 Helpings of Happy, Shiny People

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When combined correctly, the above recipe results in a festival brimming with exuberant attendees. Flitting between stages and across the campgrounds, it was clear Insomniac Events and Madison House Presents got the formula right yet again. Four days immersed in their whimsical world flew by. We left feeling lighter, filled with love, and wishing the rest of the world could experience the enchantment of Rothbury, Michigan’s magical Electric Forest.