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Rothbury local describes traffic 'nightmare' during Electric Forest Festival

The festival, returning following a pandemic hiatus, said it offered staggered arrival times this year to ease congestion.

ROTHBURY, Mich. — Tens of thousands of people were expected to descend upon the Village of Rothbury this week.

On day one of the 2022 Electric Forest Music Festival -- which opened the site a day early this year, in part, to ease congestion, some locals harbored their own concerns and turned to 13 ON YOUR SIDE for answers.

“The first thing people say is then move… This is where I live, you know?”

It’s where she’s lived for ten years now that’s given Patricia Day a front row seat to what she calls the ‘chaos’ of festival week in the Village of Rothbury.

Like clockwork, she says the inbound traffic passes zooms right by her front door.

“We can't go to the local gas station can't go to the local stores,” Day related. “Basically I sit at my house, you know. We can hear the music, the fireworks. I have foresters camping out on my front lawn… Sometimes even if I'm trying to pull out and say something, we have been super soaked, we've been cussed out, we've had cans thrown at us.”

A prerecorded message on the festival’s community hotline went on for minutes about what locals should expect with regard to traffic volume on any given day.

“It's a medium sized city come to life there and, and getting all those people in and then back out is a monumental task,” Doug Roesler, the Village’s event administrator explained. “It obviously creates headaches for people in the area but I think overall their plans work pretty well.”

Electric Forest utilizes a traffic consultant who coordinates with state and local police.

A representative responded to a request for comment with the following statement:

“The festival works with traffic consultants to plan the smoothest ingress/egress possible. Each year EF uses information shared with the festival by local residents, regional and state officials, event staff, etc. to continually refine and evolve traffic plans. This year, EF offered staggered attendee arrival date options which greatly reduced the chance of traffic buildup on local roads.”

Despite the surge in out-of-state plates, worries regarding whether the congestion may be affecting emergency response times were unfounded, Roesler said.

“It's like having a big block party down the road, but we can't go down the road to access it when it's in our neighborhood,” Day related.

And that’s a sore spot.

Day said she and the family used to get complimentary wristbands to deal with what she viewed as an annual inconvenience.

Many of her neighbors still do.

Day’s house and several others just on the other side of the road, however, were recently cut out of the deal after Day said the boundary lines shrank.

A festival representative appeared to contradict that account:

“The boundaries for which residences are eligible to receive complimentary wristbands via the EF Neighbor Program have not changed over the past 3 or 4 events. Before that, the only changes that were made were to slightly expand the boundaries.”

13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to the Neighbor Program for clarification but hadn’t received a definitive response with regard to Day’s situation by the time of publication.

Residents with concerns were asked to contact the festival’s community hotline at (231) 333-4468 or reach out via email to neighbors@electricforestfestival.com.

RELATED: Electric Forest Music Festival returns after two-year pandemic hiatus

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