The whale of a weekend we know as Forecastle Fest was brought to life in 2002 by Louisville native J.K. McKnight and his incredible team of family, friends & other local visionaries. Now a major stop on the national music festival circuit, the event brings tens of thousands of music lovers to the Louisville Waterfront from dozens of cities across the country each year.
When you enter through the gates of the festival you are immediately welcomed into a nautical retreat that engages all senses, from the smells of dozens of food trucks prepping their prize dishes for the day to whimsical sea creatures dancing in the trees at Party Cove. Drink tents abound full of smiling volunteers slinging everything from beer to bourbon slushies & more, and there is tent after tent of merchandise from favorites including Revelry Boutique Gallery & Kentucky for Kentucky. You can eat, drink, dance, sing, play, & party to your heart’s content with stellar artists playing their hearts out on multiple stages all day & never get bored. People are in festival freedom mode, donning themselves with glitter, captain’s hats, mermaid earrings & costumes galore. It’s an electric experience & we are blessed to have it hosted in our city.
Locals are enthralled with the fest, but Forecastle does more than entertain people who call the Derby City home. It provides an opportunity for visitors to see & experience our town. They come for the concerts & leave wanting to return to explore more. I even met a guy from North Carolina that said this was his first time in The Ville & he didn’t ever want to leave. Louisville is awesome & Forecastle helps showcase her awesomeness.
Beyond the excitement of the music, food, drinks, & art is the Forecastle commitment to sustainability & giving. The Forecastle Foundation tent included education on land preservation initiatives & how attendees could make more responsible daily choices for the good of the environment. If that wasn’t enough they brought in the Reverb #RockNRefill Nalgene crew who provided free refill stations of water for anyone with their own water bottle, Clean Vibes provided waste management for the festival (including composting) in tandem with the PBR Trading Post, Pepsico’s Recycling Roadster was on site educating & inspiring sustainable practices, and Arcadia Energy made it possible for the festival to run on 100% pollution-free electricity! Are you amazed? You should be!
Above all others, the stand out for me was the State Farm Neighborhood of Good. Located on the edge of the festival, several picnic tables with large umbrellas & four tiny houses welcomed people to learn about initiatives in the city & participate in an activity to give back right there on the spot. From writing a note to an at-risk youth living in a local shelter (to be delivered this week along with a hygiene kit) to building a ukulele for children in schools with underfunded arts programs, concert-goers could take a break from being entertained & invest in the needs of the community. While there you could also charge your phone, get a cool temporary tattoo, & pick up some super handy State Farm swag. The last stop on the tiny house tour included a tutorial about how to use the Neighborhood of Good website to find ways to volunteer in your hometown, wherever you’re from.
This was my first year to attend Forecastle & I was blown away by the quality, the details, the engagement & the overall spirit of the event. These things, coupled with the millions of dollars of economic stimulus Forecastle brings to our city, & how they took every opportunity to point attendees to the way they can live a more sustainable & giving-focused life are the reasons why Yes Louisville is recognizing J.K., his sister Mo, & the rest of the outstanding Forecastle planning & execution team as this week’s Louisville Leaders spotlight!
Thank you, Forecastle Fest Team, for all you do for our city! We can’t wait to see what you create in years to come!