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Festival Review - Big Fam 2022

Introduction -

Following my experience at the first-ever Big Fam Music and Arts Festival in 2021, I truly could not believe how well a first-time independent festival could run. In terms of production, music and venue choice, I really felt that it was one of those “lightning in a bottle” scenarios.

With the news that Big Fam would be held in Farwell for its second year at a venue previously unknown to me, I had to wonder if the staff could catch that proverbial lightning a second time.

I’m delighted to report that the answer is “yes.” But really, I shouldn’t have had any reason to worry, as I had also concluded that the festival would be in good hands regardless of what the future held.

I was also reminded of an important personal lesson I learned years ago when it comes to festivals - sometimes, just when you think things can’t get any better, they can!

After its stunning debut in Lake Ann, the EDM, Jam and arts festival made its mark in Farwell during the weekend of September 2-4, 2022, bringing its own brand of family values for an even bigger follow-up.

[Big Fam Map Photo]

The operative word here is “Big,” as the second installment was distinguished by bigger stages, a bigger venue, and an overall bigger experience. Even with a brief weather interruption, the positive energy was undeniable.

As a longtime concert-goer originally from Mount Pleasant, I’d like to think I’ve been to most venues that the Great Lakes State has to offer. So when it was announced that the event would be held at the Liberty Mountain Event Venue in Farwell, I was surprised that I had never heard of it before.

It would prove to be an absolute gem of a spot, and one I look forward to returning to in the future.

Methodology -

Before the inaugural installment in Lake Ann, I had the opportunity to see the venue (Harmony Pines) ahead of time to get an idea of what the finished product would look like. This time, I decided to forego any such preview and experience Liberty Mountain for the first time organically.

In this sense, it was less of a, “Here’s the spot, and here’s what we’re gonna do with it” experience, and more of a “Here’s the spot, let’s see what you did with it” experience.

When it comes to the performing artists, it’s been an ongoing trend for me to not look too much into the lineups of whatever event I’m attending, which is the opposite of what I would normally do.

Just like Liberty Mountain itself, I decided that I wanted to continue this trend of discovery and experience the artists with the best first impression I could possibly have, whether I knew them by name or not.

The only way to achieve this was by going in with as little information as possible and letting the artists speak for themselves, aside from those I already knew and was planning to see anyway.

As with my previous Big Fam review, it is my intention to recount my experience as an attendee by providing a written boots-on-the-ground report, while also providing a behind-the-scenes perspective from the staff and performers.

Day One - Friday, September 2 - Getting the Lay of the Land

My crew and I assembled at the Meijer in Mount Pleasant and prepared to utilize the classic “snake method” of traveling to a festival, where you have to all arrive at the same time to guarantee being parked next to each other.

The hot, sunny afternoon weather was promising enough for the weekend ahead, and upon pulling in, gate staff members were once again very efficient at checking vehicles and delegating appropriate passes.

The volunteers in charge of parking took extra care to make sure our large caravan would be parked together, even helping us find flatter ground to make sure we weren’t parked or sleeping on a steep angle.

The area would quickly fill in around us and our spot started looking more like a home in good time. Even with a crew as large as mine, I never felt like we were short on space.

[Big Fam Sign Photo]

While the general admission campgrounds themselves were sizable enough, they did not prepare me for the actual scope of how much space the venue included, which was nothing short of breathtaking. It took me at least a good hour and a half to make a full circle of the venue grounds, but that may have partly been because I was running into people I knew every five minutes.

That’s another thing I loved about this festival which remained true for the second installment - the name delivers what it promises, creating a space for a “big fam.”

Especially considering that this would only be the second of three camping festivals for me in 2022, it was so nice to constantly run into friends. But this time, it went beyond people I knew from other festivals and college; I was also running into old high school friends left and right.

Similar to the previous installment, the stages and attractions were set in a bottleneck format, meaning you would see everything you needed to by continuing in a straight line, only even more so this time.

The Bayou - First Impression

The centerpiece of Big Fam is the “Bayou” area, which functions as an ever-changing interactive art exhibit with its own stage set in a wooded area. The area changes subtly depending on the time - a chill, atmospheric forest scene by day, which slowly became more lit up and colorful as the sun went down.

By night, you would think you had walked into the grounds of something like Electric Forest or a similar large-scale festival. Big Fam may be its own thing, but it’s difficult to not draw comparisons to those events, which should speak to the production levels.