by Leah Lowe | LOUISVILLE — Forecastle Festival-goers braved the heat at Louisville’s Waterfront Park over the weekend to see an eclectic lineup of more than 50 bands across the event’s five stages, and experience the best of the city’s quirky culture.
Forecastle turns 17 this year, and what started as a modest community event in Louisville’s Tyler Park has grown in both size and reputation — drawing tens of thousands of visitors and locals to the banks of the Ohio River for a three-day celebration. This year marks the event’s 10th year in Waterfront Park.
“Forecastle, and its unique blend of music, art, energy and activism, is a wonderful event for our city,” said Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer, “drawing more than 65,000 people from around the world to our award-winning, world-class Waterfront Park every summer.”
Fischer says Forecastle has an estimated annual economic impact of about $5 million. “The festival has had a tremendous impact on our quality of place, showcasing Louisville as the kind of progressive city where highly engaged and motivated young professionals want to live and work,” he said.
Karen Williams, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism, agreed with the mayor’s assessment.
“Louisville has received national recognition for being a top ‘World Festival & Event City,’ according to the International Festivals and Events Association, and you can find a one-of-a-kind music, art or cultural festival taking place nearly every weekend,” she said. “Festivals like Forecastle, as well as last weekend’s Jane Austen Festival and Lebowski Fest, are prime examples of the culturally rich offerings that set our city apart. Beyond being economic drivers to our city, they also offer visitors a unique experience while also enhancing Louisville’s reputation as an authentic festival destination.”
As the Forecastle Festival kicked off on Friday afternoon, the after-work crowd began to pile in for favorites such as the Cold War Kids, Portugal. The Man, and Judah and The Lion. Amid the entertainment or between sets visitors were also able to peruse the event’s air-conditioned Bourbon Lodge, a Kentucky Craft Beer bar, API Poster Show or a variety of culinary offerings. The Sea Dragon and Ferris Wheel rides returned again this year, adding elements of both fun and charm along the waterfront. The summer sun setting over the Ohio created the perfect backdrop as alt-pop headliners The Killers took the stage to close out the night in front of a packed, energetic crowd.
The party continued on Saturday and Sunday as temperatures slowly rose from Friday’s mid-80s well into the 90s over the course of the weekend, and many in attendance sought respite from the heat under overpasses or by wading in the park’s fountains. Organizers took extra precautions such as additional shaded areas and free water stations, air conditioned areas, and even push-notifications via the Forecastle app reminding festival-goers to drink plenty of water.
Despite the heat, sweat-soaked and dusty fans soldiered from stage to stage taking in a well-curated lineup of both national and local acts. Forecastle has a reputation for remaining true to its roots and inclusive of Louisville-area talent. Tyler Childers, Bendigo Fletcher, Carly Johnson, and the Louisville Orchestra’s conductor Teddy Abrams & Friends were familiar names on this year’s roster that helped introduce visitors to the area’s vibrant local music culture.