By Ken Hegan for MSN

So I’ve been hunting down interesting summer music festivals. And I’ve found a strange one in Sherwood Forest and Double JJ Ranch near the tiny village of Rothbury, Michigan.

It’s called ELECTRIC FOREST, it runs 4 days from June 27-30th this summer, and it’s a trippy mix of jam bands, electronic music, rave imagery, burlesque stilt-walkers, and those ubiquitous, endless hula hoopers.


At night, the forest is lit up with sweeping lights, mind-altering banners, and neon face-painted 20-somethings. So it’ll feel like you’re dancing in someone else’s dream, or someone else’s nightmare, depending on your perspective (or the quality of your drugs).


You’ll get to bliss out to dozens of world famous bands like the String Cheese Incident (who’ll perform three shows), Pretty Lights, Passion Pit, Empire of the of Sun, HOLY GHOST!, Beard-o-Bees, Cosby Sweater, Flosstradamus, Lettuce, Jessijem n’ the Infamous Crotch Kickers, and okay, okay, now I’m just listing the increasingly goofiest sounding bands in the lineup.

HammockSo who goes to festivals like Electric Forest? Well, just look around your hometown. You see all those baggy-pants jugglers, fire spinners, face painters, French Canadian acrobats, unicyclists, front yard goddess sculptors, and basement potheads who blast techno music that goes ‘ntz ntz ntz ntz’ and has neither a definitive beginning or a recognizable ending? The people who make your town both really interesting and hugely annoying at the exact same time?

Electric Forest will be filled with these people. And to nobody’s surprise, they call themselves ‘foresters’.

Expect mandatory glow sticks, Birkenstock sandals, beach balls, hacky sacking, slacklining (Google it), body paint, tie-dyed jorts (jean shorts), a strong scent of skunk, and stonerific spin dancing (watch for the repetitive spinning dance move that I like to call the Hornby Island Helicopter). Also: the festival will feature a “silent disco”, whatever that is, live painting by a person/robot named Lebo, and plenty of random uninvited hugging. Bottom line: this festival will smell like other people’s feet.

By day, you can play/clean up with other foresters in the nearby water park. Plus there’s a ferris wheel and a pop-up restaurant by Bravo’s Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg. There’s also a lake, horseback-riding, and a golf course. Fun, right? If you’ve ever tried to golf while you’re at an electronic music festival, then you know that impaired golfing takes forever, so you always get your money’s worth.


Best of all, people string loads of hammocks between all the trees, in case you get overwhelmed by all this beauty, nature, and (I assume) free love, and need a power nap to process everything you’ve witnessed/participated in. It’s like Burning Man in a forest, except way cheaper and no dust storms, but with a significant risk of concussing your brain by walking/running/dancing into an uncaring tree.


Early bird tickets are now sold out, so the regular ticket price of $259 is in effect. This includes onsite camping and parking. If you want to bring your RV, that’ll cost you another $125 plus service fees.

DJs in trees

If you’d rather not camp, I suppose you could rent a Log Cabin that sleeps 4-6 people, and includes maid service and a daily brunch buffet. The cabins only cost (gulp) $4,550 to $5,700. Again, that’s not a down payment. That price lets you stay there for four days.

Alas, even the log cabins are sold-out and unavailable. Unless, of course, you cabin-invade like that bushman in Salmon Arm, BC. If that’s the case, the price is definitely negotiable.

Anyway, the festival’s come up fast so party on and on and on, Garth! Just watch out for the creepy owl (below) WHO KEEPS STARING AT YOU, MAN.


— Ken Hegan



Rothbury is a 3-hour drive from Detroit and Chicago, a little further from St. Louis and Indianopolis, and a mere 50 km drive from the no doubt lovely Muskegon County Airport.

For further info, visit

VIDEO: Watch these videos from past Electric Forest festivals

Read more of Ken’s travel stories here

Twitter: @KenHegan

Photos courtesy Electric Forest