EF 2020 canceled due to COVID-19.

April 9, 2020

Derek Holland of Madison House Presents, which produces the Electric Forest Festival, addresses the Rothbury Village Council.

EF 2020 canceled due to COVID-19.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

ROTHBURY — The Rothbury Village Council voted down a proposal to postpone the Electric Forest Festival with 5-2 vote during a cold and blustery outdoor meeting Thursday, April 9. The decision cancels Electric Forest Festival in 2020.

Festival producers proposed moving the massive music festival from June 25-28 to Sept. 10-13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re asking for a shot to keep the festival going,” said Derek Holland, in-house counsel for AEG Presents and Madison House Presents. “If the revised dates are not approved, we can’t go forward (with the 2020 festival).”

The meeting was conducted in the picnic pavilion in the village park due to social distancing measures.

After about an hour of discussion, Trustee Autumn Drake made a motion to approve the proposal to postpone the festival until September with support from Trustee Mike Harris. Drake and Harris cast the two favorable votes, while “no” votes came from Village President Scott Beishuizen and trustees Cindy Cruz, Jim Fekken, Bob Fulljames and Vern Talmadge.

The council approved a mass gathering permit for Electric Forest at the Double JJ Resort last November. The permit is a 10-year agreement between the village council and Madison House.

This year would have been the 10th anniversary of the enormous music festival that attracts at least 40,000 people each year from all over the US and other countries.

Prior to the council’s vote to cancel this year’s festival, the following statements were made:

Village Clerk Carol Wizke said she fielded many phone calls Thursday about the possibility of postponing the festival, and several local residents were concerned about the festival occurring while local children are in school due to noise late at night and heavy traffic while students are being bussed to and from school. Witzke said she also received many phone calls from festival goers across the country who said they wanted the festival to remain in June.

“Given the current state of the pandemic and the size and scope of Electric Forest, we think the most prudent course of action is to postpone the festival until after Labor Day,” Holland read from a prepared statement. “Thousands of other events around the world have done this, including iconic events like the Kentucky Derby, The Masters and the Boston Marathon. In our industry, countless music festivals throughout the United States have shifted from spring and summer months to the fall, including the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, which brings hundreds of thousands of attendees to Indio, California on two consecutive weekends each year — typically in April but this year in October. In every one of these cases, local governments recognized the incredible value these events bring to their region, both culturally and economically, particularly at a time when a little hope can go a long way and local businesses desperately need a boost.”

“Is money worth it or is a human life worth it? an audience member asked.

“I have a couple concerns,” said Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast. “I’m not opposed to the festival. But as we begin getting our community back to a new normal, I am concerned about the kids in school.” Mast said he is also concerned that festival goers who are arrested could infect the jail. “There is only one jail in this county, and I can’t have this sickness coming into my jail.”

Jim Rose is the attorney for the Double JJ Resort, which is the venue for the event. Rose said there would be a “whole host of other entities” that would have to approve the festival before it could go forward if the village approved the postponement. “If (the pandemic) is not resolved by then, (the festival) is not going to happen.”

“We’re not putting the festival on if it’s not safe to do so,” Holland said.

“At some point, we have to say no,” said Fulljames.

This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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