ROTHBURY, Mich. (WOOD) - As the only member of our media team who attended the inauguraland the second annual Rothbury Festival, I feel it's my job toprovide some sort of comparative analysis -- to educate those whohave yet to attend, as well as give a sense of what direction thefestival is headed.
Camping this year was very similar to last; two rows ofcars/tents, a fire lane, repeat. I'm a fan of this system. No oneis ever "boxed in" and you always are able to leave in case ofemergency. This is not the case at all festivals. Also, water iscompletely free at water refill stations located throughout thefestival. Again, not the case at all festivals.
The police presence was very noticeable this year and last.State police patrol the camping area and the festival grounds incruisers, golf carts, on foot and on horseback. Obviously, thereare some illicit happenings at music festivals -- some, in myopinion, more dangerous than others. Law enforcement seems torecognize this, and is very efficient and effective at primarilygoing after things that pose a significant danger tofestivalgoers.
The Rothbury crew at the main gate to the festival grounds has asimilar mind-set.
Last year, rules and regulations were enforced strictly in thebeginning. On day one, you were allowed one bottle of water (fullif sealed and empty if unsealed), and no other outside food orbeverages. On day two, unsealed water bottles were permitted (aftersecurity smelled them to confirm they were not alcohol), andoutside beverages (sealed bottles of Gatorade) were allowed. By daythree, all food and drink was allowed inside, so long as it was notan egregious quantity.
I like the system implemented this year: No unsealed beveragesallowed, any sealed beverages allowed, and small quantities of foodare permitted. When it comes to safety, however, the staff remainsunwavering. Everyone entering the festival grounds is searched, andanything that could be construed as a weapon will beconfiscated.
The illustrious Sherwood Forest has (thankfully) remained mostlythe same. There are still lots of hanging decorations, some old,some new. The amount of stage lighting scattered throughout theforest is, in my opinion, still perfect. The secret stage is in thesame location as last year, obviously taking away some of thesecrecy.
However, shows and times for the stage are still very hush-hush,so you're able to attain the feeling that you've stumbled upon anunannounced performance. The small village of various art pieces inthe forest (some of you may remember the "Pinecone Buddha") makesits appearance again this year, and now it has a name:"Reincarnation Village."
Some changes: The large tent structures are no more, and havebeen replaced by the addition of four fully functional bars. Treesare no longer decorated in wrapping paper; instead, Rothbury held a"Sherwood Forest tree wrap contest," where the decorator of thewinning tree received a viewing upgrade for himself and two guests,among other prizes.
One thing that hasn't changed in a year is the "green" spirit.Rothbury has a "Green Crew" to pick up trash after shows, andbelieve me, they get EVERY piece. Every cup, every cigarette butt-- if it's not there naturally, it's removed.
What was amazing to see last year was the amount of unpaidfestivalgoers helping, unprompted, to pick up trash. I rememberseeing people picking up trash that was not their own, and thatmade me want to pick up trash, and the feeling spread rapidly. Theresult? One of the cleanest festivals you will see.
A lot of other things have remained the same. There are stilllots of things to do besides the concerts; Think Tanks, burlesqueshows, various swag booths. Some things are no longer present andare sorely missed (RIP spinning monkey art). But I will say that Ibelieve the festival is headed in the right direction.
The "green" message is prevalent over all other aspects of thefestival, the staff is still incredibly vigilant and dedicated tokeeping everyone safe, and I guarantee that if Rothbury comes backnext year, I'll most likely be here as well.
Hopefully in the presence of some spinning monkey art.
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