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Going To Forecastle Festival?

By WESLEY KERRICK
Contributing Writer
The Voice-Tribune

Holly Weyler and JK McKnight.

Holly Weyler and JK McKnight.

Tens of thousands of fans will gather Friday, July 12, at Waterfront Park for one of the most highly acclaimed music festivals in the country.

This year’s lineup of 55 artists features The String Cheese Incident, The Black Keys and The Avett Brothers. The first bands will begin playing at 4:45 p.m. Friday. Concerts run until midnight. Saturday’s lineup starts at 2:15 p.m. and goes until midnight. On Sunday, it starts at 1:15 p.m. and runs till 11 p.m.

Below is a look at what you need to know about the festival, according to Forecastle founder and “Captain” JK McKnight.

WESLEY KERRICK: To your knowledge, what’s the farthest someone has ever traveled to Forecastle?

JK MCKNIGHT: China, I believe. Last year was 48 states, 1,243 cities and seven countries. So this year, we’re hoping to do more.

KERRICK: If people don’t visit the Bourbon Lodge at Forecastle, what are they missing out on?

MCKNIGHT: They totally missed out on, I would argue, one of the most unique attributes of the whole festival. … It’s an incredible experience. This year, we’ve put a ton of effort into it. It’s four times bigger than last year, four times as many brands. … It’s pretty amazing.

The Black Keys.

The Black Keys.

KERRICK: What sets Forecastle apart from other music festivals around the country?

MCKNIGHT: The whole festival has this kind of nautical wrap to it. Everywhere you’ll look, just there’s nautical décor and decorations that we’ve spent all year working on. … We probably have the biggest, most expansive bourbon experience of any music festival of our size.

KERRICK: What was the first festival like in 2002?

MCKNIGHT: It was six bands. … There was probably only about 30 or 40 people. I think there were probably more people in attendance who were performers than people that came to the event. … It was very simplistic and very pure.

KERRICK: Where did you get the idea for a nautical theme?

MCKNIGHT: It probably just goes to my Aquarius nature. I’m a water baby; I love everything water. … I was 19 and I was trying to come up with a festival name. … And a ship, for me, was a great metaphor for music and art and things that I loved.

KERRICK: In addition to music, Forecastle is about taking care of the earth. How did that combination happen?

MCKNIGHT: That just comes, again, from a passion I’ve always had for environmental issues since I was a little kid. It’s hard to think of it this way now, but in the early 2000s, sustainability and environmentalism was not a very mainstream thing. … It was a really kind of revolutionary thing, at least in how we presented it and how we marketed it, because no one else was doing that at the time.

Jim James.

Jim James.

KERRICK: What are you doing at this year’s festival to promote environmental responsibility?

MCKNIGHT: We have a 75 by 45 foot activation (on-site presence) in the Great Lawn, and that’s kind of where we’re putting a lot of our energy. We have three partners this year – Patagonia Footwear, Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, and Guayakí, who we’re working with on a project in Brazil right now.

KERRICK: The festival is branded as “Music. Art. Activism.” You’ve talked about music and activism; could you talk a little about art?

MCKNIGHT: We’re focusing all our efforts on the nautical design and décor of the whole site, which will be far and above anything we’ve ever done before. … Our focus now is making sure that the art component is experienced by everybody. … Our goal is to transform the entire property into a completely other place and time for this weekend.