Why the Forest? Final Edition 9/9 – “Happy Forest”

This year, we’ve spent months gushing over a festival in the Midwest that has grown exponentially since 2011. From humble beginnings as a new festival, the now 2-week event reaches across the country. We created a series called Why the Forest? to explore what makes Electric Forest special beyond other festivals and even beyond its own lineup. Each year, the festival brings international superstars and local favorites. Everyone on the festival lineup deserves to be there. But Electric Forest is far beyond a music festival, and we set out to prove that. Each conversation at the festival begins and ends with “Happy Forest!” as if the event were a holiday. Many treat it as such.

The past 8 editions of Why the Forest included artist contests, community outreach programs, wishes granted to those making a difference, and a wall that hoped to help us break barriers. After attending the festival, we wanted those who attended create the final edition of Why the Forest. In this edition, we asked those who keep returning each year why they keep coming back to the Double JJ Ranch.

“Electric Forest is the place you’ve always wanted to imagine, but you couldn’t do it by yourself”. – Sam

The festival always exceeds expectations. No matter how many times we return to Sherwood Forest, we’re always in awe of the art, the lights, the colors, and the characters. Each costume is intricately created, and there are different themes each year. The teams behind Electric Forest include hundreds of builders, engineers, artists, and volunteers. No one could have imagined the Forest on their own. That’s what the festival is all about, the community of those who build the magic within themselves and share it with friends and strangers throughout the weekend.

“[Electric Forest is] just a magical destination on the journey to helping you understand who you are. There is really only a point to anything if you give it one. Forest helped me uncover a lot about myself, I’m pretty sure it has that effect on everyone that visits the Sherwood [Forest]”. – Zeina

Surrounding oneself in an environment filled with such powerful energy can reveal details previously unknown. Losing the group in a sea of people and exploring the Forest alone with no cell reception can help one break away from the comfort of the familiar. Breaking from comfort zones is a great way to grow and learn, and make new friends. The Forest is the perfect environment for finding people with things in common they could never expect.

“The point of Electric Forest to experience your own journey. There are many many things to experience there, workshops to check out, live artists to see, an incomprehensible landscape and most importantly meet new people and allow them into your lives. The first time we went with three [people] the next time we came back 23. The first time is what you make, but it’s one of the best venues in the world to experience amazing music and life together. The second time I was able to share and enjoy others experiencing it for the first time, and I even saw quite a bit of things I missed the first year.”Vincent

It is physically impossible to see everything there is to see at Electric Forest in one weekend. Many of the secret sets are spread by word of mouth, and often times it’s just best to be at the right place at the right time. Jumping from stage to stage only seeing music will make the festival appear to be just like any other. However, upon more inspection and more exploration, the festival truly comes alive to become an immersive experience beyond the great music.

“There is a comfort among the trees. When anything is overwhelming whether it be stress, anxiety, or pure joy, you can relax and lay in a hammock or talk to a new loving friend that you can make for life. It is the excitement of bringing someone new and showing them your favorite spots and finding something new together. The spiritualist feeling of the luminescence [paper lantern] area for those who have passed is unlike any other and is a soul-filling experience. The mystery and clues to find the secret rooms and areas are the best of all. I could go for days about the special thing we call home and for that, there is no place like it.” – Felicia

People gush over Electric Forest more than most festivals. From the words used to describe their experience to the look in their eyes when they do so, the glow emanates from them. Once inside the campground, the festival is its own bubble, separate from the rest of the world. Sherwood Forest is the deepest part of the bubble, where nothing is as it is in real life, and patrons are truly entering a wonderland.

The music at Electric Forest is always amazing. We could talk about the secret sets or the headliners everyone has already spoken about. This series showcased why Electric Forest stands out not only as a festival but also as a movement and a community. The love, knowledge, and acceptance at the festival are abundant and eternal. Check out more photos and videos from the festival on their website. Happy Forest!

 

Ashley Cizek

Went to school at UW-Madison, graduating with a BA in psychology. I hula-hoop, I write, I enjoy sunlight.

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