For this edition of the Louisville Perspectives Podcast, hosted by Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty, Holly McKnight talks about the Forecastle Music Festival, which showcases 60 acts over the course of a three-day festival every second or third weekend in July.
The very first festival took place at Tyler Park in 2002 as a small gathering of fifty people – mostly friends of local musician JK Knight who shared the same appreciation for music. The following year, attendance size had doubled. A few years after that, the festival outgrew Tyler Park and moved over to Cherokee Park, where about 5,000 people showed up, and then onto Mellwood Arts Center, the Belvedere, and finally to Waterfront Park, where they have been ever since “and will probably be, forever,” says McKnight. This year, some 65,000 attendees are expected. About half the people are local residents and half travel in from out of town.
Artists are booked through AC Entertainment, which books over 1,000 shows and festivals each year, including the popular Bonnaroo. “These people have a reputation for knowing what’s cool, what’s happening, and what’s not-yet-cool but will be in six months,” McKnight explains. Their roster is always going to be an intriguing, interesting mix of old favorites and fresh new finds.
The slogan of Forecastle is: Music, art, activism. Beyond the festival, JK and Holly McKnight also work together on the Forecastle Foundation, which is involved in local conservation efforts. Activism and environmentalism is “on the tip of everyone’s tongue” these days, so it makes sense to fuse music and stewardship together. A dollar from every ticket sold goes to the foundation to support local conservation. They also display tons of local artists doing live painting and other interactive works to engage festivalgoers.
By September, the team is ready to hit the ground running, working on next year’s festival already. JK McKnight works as Director of National Partnerships with people in Nashville, Knoxville, and a few small offices scattered across the country. He works on getting sponsorships, employs independent contractors, and networks with companies working on the biggest festivals across America from Lollapalooze to Coachella. Louisville residents are really fortunate to have such a flourishing, well-known festival right in their own backyard!