Walking into Forecastle Festival, the sensory overload immediately hits you. The ground vibrating, the sculpture installations, it smelled like sunscreen and sweat. It’s held right on the riverfront in downtown Louisville, so the beautiful Ohio river is the backdrop for three out of the four stages – it was like the park was built for music festivals.
We stayed nearby at the Gault House, which was walking distance from the festival grounds. The rooms there are perfect for groups, which worked out great because we had five people. Our room was stocked with bottled water, granola bars, Gatorade, snacks, and some Zima we picked up on the way down – with Jolly Ranchers of course. Once we all applied our contraband aerosol sunscreen, we walked the two blocks to the entrance.
I got used to drops of sweat trickling off my face. There’s no fighting it, so you just have to embrace it. As I said in one of my day-my-day recaps, the frozen bandanas were my saving grace. That, and the heavenly Bourbon Lodge.
The Bourbon Lodge is the beautiful partnership between the festival and The Kentucky Distillers Association. They serve some of the best whiskey and bourbon in the world, all available at our thirsty fingertips. The $30 tickets included an Eco Vessel steel mug, fifteen drink tickets, access to the air conditioned lodge, air conditioned bathrooms, and an outdoor patio area just for bourbon lodge members. Knowing that there was always air conditioning available, or a picnic table on the patio was refreshing.
Especially refreshing since the grounds were unusually dry this year. Weird, considering how much it rained Thursday night. While sitting on the halfway dead, scratchy grass, I kept thinking “I’m definitely bringing something to sit on next year.” I guess it’s been a dry summer in Kentucky. Although scratchy, the grounds were very clean. They have volunteers cleaning up the grounds throughout the festival, not just at the end of the night each night. I appreciate that about Forecastle because I have been to festivals where the ground is just a landfill of cigarette butts and empty beer cans by day three. This is not that festival.
I was particularly excited for this year because it was an anniversary year, so I was expecting big things. Last year there were fireworks for no reason at all. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have a special anniversary thing they did. If anything, it feels like they had a little LESS stuff going on this year. But, the puppets were awe-inspiring as always. Colonel Sanders is always a crowd favorite, but I personally prefer the Hunter S. Thompson. There were also giant fish on stilts and light-up jellyfish puppets. Performance wise, I gotta give it to the fish; not only did they walk around a music festival on stilts for three days, but they also danced. Props to them.
Overall, it was an unforgettable festival. I danced to LCS Soundsystem, I cried to Conor Oberst, and I drank some delectable bourbon. Cheers to Forecastle for putting on one of the most incredible and well-organized festival I’ve ever been to. We can’t wait until next year!