By WESLEY KERRICK
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 yearâ€™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. Saturdayâ€™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 â€œCaptainâ€ JK McKnight.
WESLEY KERRICK: To your knowledge, whatâ€™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, weâ€™re hoping to do more.
KERRICK: If people donâ€™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. â€¦ Itâ€™s an incredible experience. This year, weâ€™ve put a ton of effort into it. Itâ€™s four times bigger than last year, four times as many brands. â€¦ Itâ€™s pretty amazing.
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 youâ€™ll look, just thereâ€™s nautical dÃ©cor and decorations that weâ€™ve spent all year working on. â€¦ 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. â€¦ 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. â€¦ 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. Iâ€™m a water baby; I love everything water. â€¦ I was 19 and I was trying to come up with a festival name. â€¦ 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 Iâ€™ve always had for environmental issues since I was a little kid. Itâ€™s hard to think of it this way now, but in the early 2000s, sustainability and environmentalism was not a very mainstream thing. â€¦ 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.
KERRICK: What are you doing at this yearâ€™s festival to promote environmental responsibility?
MCKNIGHT: We have a 75 by 45 foot activation (on-site presence) in the Great Lawn, and thatâ€™s kind of where weâ€™re putting a lot of our energy. We have three partners this year â€“ Patagonia Footwear, Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, and GuayakÃ, who weâ€™re working with on a project in Brazil right now.
KERRICK: The festival is branded as â€œMusic. Art. Activism.â€ Youâ€™ve talked about music and activism; could you talk a little about art?
MCKNIGHT: Weâ€™re focusing all our efforts on the nautical design and dÃ©cor of the whole site, which will be far and above anything weâ€™ve ever done before. â€¦ Our focus now is making sure that the art component is experienced by everybody. â€¦ Our goal is to transform the entire property into a completely other place and time for this weekend.