Photo: Edward Clynes. Gallery.
Laytonville, CA – A magical weekend came to a close on the captivating grounds of historic Black Oak Ranch in Mendocino County as the 6th annual Enchanted Forest Gathering wrapped another wondrous festival experience within the lush embrace of the majestic oak forest and refreshing Tenmile Creek. Attracting attendees from all walks of life; millennials, bass heads, yogis, families, dancers and everyone in between, Enchanted Forest Gathering has cemented its spot as Northern California’s premier boutique music, movement, and conscious living camping festival. The event garnered national attention and participant adoration for several of its defining characteristics; being an alcohol-free event, enabling guests a safe container for all forms of expression (including #FreeTheNipple) as well as hosting an on-site medical cannabis dispensary — all while taking place in an incredibly comfortable family-friendly environment.
Extraordinary and unconventional, Enchanted Forest Gathering radiated sublime vibes that dazzled participants with a weekend chock-full of educational and inspiring workshops, wonky bass and eclectic live music, and an unrivaled offering of flow and movement classes of all forms including hooping, yoga, dance and even juggling. Distancing itself from its contemporaries in numerous ways, Enchanted Forest Gathering first and foremost fostered an alcohol-free environment, where attendees found themselves elevated to a state of higher presence, perfectly in line with the festival’s pillar of “cultivating clear and conscious connection.” Healthier (and tastier!) alternatives to alcohol were provided at each stage’s neighboring elixir bar, serving up an array of beverages from Americanos and hot chocolate to coconut water, Yerba Mate, Kombucha and cacao boosts. For those with a medicinal marijuana recommendation, local medical cannabis dispensary Emerald Pharms hosted a booth on site further displaying the festival’s forward thinking.
Beautifully constructed etched-wood stages, adorned with fresh greenery, flowers, crystals and vibrant colors were the aesthetic of the Mighty Oak main stage and the wet and wild River Stage, while velvet curtains and Greek-style columns dressed up the Live Lounge, all under the rich, green oak trees towering above them. With a focus on attendee comfort, each stage included shade structures to watch the show, foam dance floors, and lounge areas. A mix of incredible live bands and bass heavy artists united at the gathering with stand out sets from Shpongle, Clozee, Thriftworks, PANTYRAID, Love and Light, Nominus, Reid Speed, Soohan, KRNE, The Polish Ambassador, Autograf, Fanna Fi Allah, Ayla Nereo, and more.
Thoughtfully placed among the music stages were magical interactive micro-environments and art installations fit for revelers of all ages. Activities were plentiful for those who wanted to share special moments alone or with the whole tribe which included everything from themeandering Tenmile Creek Swimmin’ Hole that bordered one side of the grounds, the playful Kidslandia children’s area complete with free play and Montessori daycare services, the Namastage Yoga area and Dance Temple for amazing classes in movement with teachers such as Suzanne Sterling, Darin McFayden & Claire Thompson (of Yoga and Bass), and Saqi, the Nectar Temple and Wisdom Share University & Community Center for life-changing educational health & nutritional workshops, and of course the Saucy Spa stage with a one-of-a-kind foam bath party and ecstatic dance area.
The legendary venue became the sacred grounds for workshops covering four main topics: Relationships and Sexuality, Science and Spirituality, Health and Wellness and Nourishment and Nutrition with classes such as Opening Vulnerability, Women in Music Industry, Make Love like a Goddess, Healing Hugs, Rhythm Drum Circle, Clearing Relationship Karma, Next Level Nut Milks, a Cacao Ceremony and much, much more.
With spellbinding sensations emanating throughout the grounds, festival attendees had a deep appreciation for the historical location they were blessed to encounter and enjoy. The history at Black Oak Ranch dates back to 1987 when Wavy Gravy asked Jerry Garcia to help settle an overdue mortgage by staging a concert at French’s camp in Piercy, CA. Garcia agreed and then enlisted Bill Graham to produce the event and thus “Electric on the Eel” was born. The venue has further played host to the adored Earthdance Global Dance Party for Peace and Kate Wolf Music Festival, making Black Oak Ranch’s deep community history a desired and idyllic home for any modern music festival.
The unparalleled feel-good vibes that echoed through the the 6th annual Enchanted Forest Gathering were felt by all who attended. While the festival may be intimate in size, it’s big in heart, production value, and opportunities for personal growth. Opening its arms to lovers of music, healthy and holistic living, conscious movement, performance art, nature, multi-generational community and self-actualization, the festival stayed true to its mission and balanced the “sacred, sexy, silly and saucy” elements of life.