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The Man Who Built Electric Forest

by Connor Smith
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Every great event in history has begun with a dreamer; someone who believed in a cause and was passionate enough to see it through to its entirety. For Electric Forest, Wally Wojack was that dreamer.

Wally Wojack in the forest he created

A Forest Is Born

Wally remembered, “Believe it or not, in two mornings, we planted that entire section that the Electric Forest stands in today. To think that this all started with a bunch of seeds. I never would have imagined what it would be like today.” All starting in 1955, Wally had the inspiration to plant seeds in a distant section of his ranch. These seeds would someday grow to be the Sherwood Forest that hosts the legendary festival the EDM community recognizes today. Becoming owner of the property known as the “Jack and Jill Ranch”, Wally went on to rename the landscape as the  Double JJ Ranch in the 1970s.

The lineup for Rothbury '08

Festival Debut

Fast forwarding to 2008, the forest served as a home to the Rothbury Music Festival, a 4-day event making its debut, hosting popular rock ‘n’ roll artists and jam bands such as John Mayer and Modest Mouse. The festival continued on until 2010 when it reached a brief suspension. Returning the following year, the summer of 2011 was introduced to the first Electric Forest with help from Insomniac Events and Madison House. With the EDM culture growing, the event’s attendance continued to rise as music enthusiasts from across the country began seeking their own journey into the forest.  A journey that would allow pure joy and discovery of one’s self, all made possible because Wally opened his home.

Festival attendees making memories in the forest

Forest Family

As the years went by and the festival raged on, Wally would stand side by side with festival goers during the sets, dancing along as a friend and as family. “I really like the young folks here, I love ‘em all. They certainly enrich my life a lot.” He was honored to share the same space with attendees and took pride in providing a safe haven for individuals to create memories for years to come.

Festival goers remembering Wally Wojack

Remembering Wally

Passing in 2017, Wally Wojack left behind a legacy that is Electric Forest. Honoring him with love and respect for one another, this festival will live on carrying the foundation that had been established by one man and a dream to selflessly entertain. The Forest Fam may have lost a father, but his memory and the values he instilled will never be forgotten.  

Check out a tribute to the man who began it all with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68846l6NUH8


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