Electric Forest: Are you ready?

Festival veterans share tips for the yearly gathering in Rothbury
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The Della Kit performs at Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, Mich. in 2022. Photo courtesy of Isabel Dowell.

Thousands flock to Rothbury each summer for the multi-genre festival that is Electric Forest, which takes place June 20-23 this year. It’s known for lights that bathe the woods in brilliant, neon colors and crowds of festival goers in vibrant and eccentric costumes. Hammocks sway lazily in the summer breeze by day, and the fields pulse with wild energy at night. It’s a place where friendships are forged, and memories made.

Jake Wesley Rogers performs at Electric Forest Festial in 2022. Photo courtesy of Isabel Dowell.

Mike Brameijer and Jessa Challa are two Grand Rapidians for whom Electric Forest is a time-honored tradition they come back to again and again.

“I have been to Forest eight times; this year it will be nine,” Brameijer said. “It’s a homecoming for my friend group. It’s a place where no matter how far we move away, we always come back and hang out as a family.”

Stilt walkers and performers captivate and entertain in intricate costumes, while interactive art installations inspire and delight. There are plenty of people to see and things to do, but also a few important things to remember.

“People say it a lot, but you’ve got to drink water,” Brameijer said. “You still are outside for four days, and you’ve got to be able to take care of yourself. Your good time can’t be at the detriment of other people’s good time – you have to be mindful of others. Forest is what you make it.”

“You are camping,” Challa said. “You need to make sure that you’re getting at least two meals if not three meals in a day. You’re going to be out in the sun and the elements. This past year was my first experience where a pretty bad storm blew through. You have to be prepared for that kind of situation.”

You might be roughing it in a tent or spending a weekend in an RV equipped with AC like Challa and Brameijer, but no matter where you’re camping, make sure you have a few essentials on your packing list.

“You should have an E-Z Up [pop-up canopy] for the heat, some way to carry water and a good pair of shoes,” Brameijer said. “You need a bandana or a mask for the dust. Earplugs – don’t make the same mistake I did. Have good earplugs that don’t muffle the sound but bring the decibels down.”

Perhaps most importantly, be sure to bring an open mind and a sense of adventure. The eclectic, immersive experience is never exactly the same from year to year, and that’s part of the charm.

“There’s so much to explore,” Challa said. “The one year that you go, you’re not going to see everything, and that’s OK. You have to let go of your fear of missing out and really enjoy the things that you do get to experience.”

 

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Ever since Pasha Shipp could talk, she's been dreaming up colorful stories. Fantasy creatures, mysterious kingdoms, enchanted forests, you name it. As she reached adulthood, she decided to take the magic out of her head and put it down on paper. Pasha has been writing for Grand Rapids Magazine since November 2015, and has loved every minute of it. She has a master's degree in Communication and a bachelor's degree in Film Studies from Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University respectively. When she isn't daydreaming and writing stories for the magazine, she's exploring the many hidden treasures of Grand Rapids with her fiancé.