ROTHBURY, MI – Despite a lengthy legal dispute, it appears that Electric Forest is here to stay.
The Double JJ Ranch and AEG Live, a national concert promotion company which acquired Electric Forest co-organizer Madison House Presents in January, have agreed on a 10-year deal to keep the widely popular music festival in Rothbury.
Norm Halbower, who is part of the Double JJ Ranch’s ownership group Antler Bar Amusements LLC, confirmed the deal on Tuesday, Sept. 2.
According to Halbower, the agreement between the ranch and AEG Live to host Electric Forest became official when the properties’ former owners, Progressive Resorts LLC, failed to take the necessary steps to reclaim the ranch, which a court order said it had the chance to do.
A court order by Judge Terrence R. Thomas of the 27th Circuit Court in Oceana County granted Antler Bar Amusements LLC ownership of the property in November 2013 after Progressive Resorts LLC couldn’t pay the bills.
However, the court order gave Progressive a chance to reclaim and reacquire the resort if it paid off more than $7 million in debt owed to ABA by the deadline on May 19, which it failed to do.
“I can assure you that there will be a festival next year,” Halbower said. “Part of my reasoning is they have had representatives going through our forest checking trees and doing preliminary stuff like they do every year.”
Representatives from AEG Live and Madison House Presents did not respond to attempts made by MLive Muskegon Chronicle for comment.
RELATED: Electric Forest: A breakdown of legal dispute between organizers, Double JJ owners.
Halbower said hosting events such as Electric Forest are hugely important for the success of the Double JJ Ranch because it brings in funds which allow ownership to upgrade facilities.
Dave Alvarez, general manager at the Double JJ Ranch, said ABA has invested $2.4 million in the property since May.
New roofs, upgraded rooms, new flooring and cabinets at Back Forty cabins, and upgrades to the water park are just some of the improvements, Alvarez said.
In addition to the money it brings in, Halbower added that the four-day electronic music festival is something he thoroughly enjoyed.
“I’m 72 years old and I attended the festival this year,” he said. “It was such a pleasant experience. I met educated people from all walks of life, including architects and brilliant minds of stage and theater. The show the festival puts on is a sight to see.”
Halbower said the only thing that could stop the festival from happening would be a loss of support from Grant Township board, something he doesn’t anticipate will happen.
Before last year’s festival, the board approved a mass gathering permit in a split vote. The township has expressed support of the festival since its creation in 2011.
Electric Forest features multiple musical performers on several stages. More than 35,000 people from throughout the United States and Canada attended the 2014 event held June 26-29.
Sources: Brandon Champion at MLIVE.com