Behind the Forest
One volunteer’s 2nd Electric Forest was nothing like the year before
Flashback to Electric Forest 2015….
I had just registered my loyalty wristband as I had attended the previous year for the first time. Happy that I had a guaranteed ticket at a slightly discounted price, I was excited to return to the most wonderful place I have ever experienced. But, shortly after my purchase, I stumbled across a Facebook post regarding a volunteer program for the festival named “Electric Forces”. After some digging and back and forth with the Festival’s social media pages, I discovered that as an Active Duty military member I qualified for the program.
Normally Electric Forces members build installations for the festival sometimes a week prior to the event and receive a free, special wristband as well as payment for their work. Since I had found the program late in the game I received an email stating that they no longer had any workshop slots open but would keep me in mind if something popped up. I didn’t worry much given that I already had a wristband for the festival, but it was a pleasant surprise to get an email a week later saying they had a parking job that I was eligible for and if I filled out the paperwork I could receive a wristband and payment for my hours logged! Instantly, I replied to the email stating that I was interested and gave my loyalty wristband to a friend who had never attended a music festival. This was a win/win all around, but as the festival approached I grew nervous that I might end up working more than I wanted to.
…happen almost overnight.
Luckily, all of my worry dissolved as I arrived at the festival and met up with the ticket booth to receive my special wristband. This, is when I truly got to see the magic that goes into making an event for roughly 35,000+ concertgoers…happen almost overnight.
I met up with my sponsor, an extremely friendly, fellow, forester named Leah. She drove me around on a golf cart to meet up with the rest of the Electric Forces crew while explaining some of the stories she already had from a busy day behind the scenes. After receiving my “uniform” which was actually a super badass military green T-shirt with a black trucker hat displaying the words “Electric Forces”, I felt like I had just joined the exclusive elites of the festivals working crew. Immediately after talking to my new brothers and sisters I discovered that on top of getting paid and receiving a free wristband, we also got an exclusive camping spot right next to the festivals main entrance! I felt like I had won the lottery as I rode behind the scenes of my second home, watching the festival come to life before my eyes. What was normally a horse pasture and ranch the rest of the year, was transforming into “Electric Forest”. An event I hold close to my heart.
I watched the entrance gate being raised, and I helped place a wooden fence around it knowing that thousands of eager concertgoers would be pressed against them just the following day. I could picture all of the smiling faces happy to see the hard work of thousands of volunteers pay off and manifest into the festival we all know and love. I got to eat dinner in a tent with hundreds of other workers who were breathing life into the festival just hours before it would open to the general public. This was only my second year attending but, I now knew what it was like to see the festival on both sides of the fence and they were both breathtaking.
As the rest of the family crept into the parking lots, their cars packed to the ceiling with gear I greeted them with a big smile as I parked them in their appropriate spots. “Welcome Home!” I yelled with a shit-eating grin knowing that I was a part of something that would bring joy to thousands of what I consider family. Being behind the scenes, I was humbled to witness what can only be described as “magic” happening overnight.
Happy Forest family, happy Forest.
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