The third annual Faster Horses Festival is coming to Brooklyn, Michigan July 17-19. Faster Horses is new to the music festival scene, so don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it alongside Electric Forest, Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza.
Faster Horses is a three-day country music and camping festival at the Michigan International Speedway. The 2015 line-up boasts Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and Florida Georgia Line as headliners, and performances from Dustin Lynch, Lee Brice, Michigan’s own Frankie Ballard and many more.
I can tell you first hand that it’s a blast — from the artists and the mouthwatering food, to the foam pit and Ferris wheel. But if you don’t know your way around, navigating the vast grounds with two stages, carnival rides, and Porta-Potty villages can be rough.
Luckily, I know my way around the town and the Festival, so allow me to be your guide. Here are the top 10 things to know about Faster Horses Festival:
1. There are two stages, and they’re both worth a visit.
Faster Horses has a small stage and a main stage, one for up-and-coming artists, one for the big-timers. Sam Hunt was on the small stage just last summer, and his first studio album, Montevallo, just went gold in April. The newcomers are always worth checking out, at least for a song or two. Conveniently, the festival is timed so the small stage has performances scheduled while the main stage is in between acts. So really, there’s no excuse not to check it out, you might hear something you love that you would’ve never heard of otherwise.
2. It’s country.
Expect to see a lot of cowboy hats, daisy dukes, and boots. Also, an unfortunate amount of Confederate Flag attire. This is not the place to wear neon tutus and body paint — keep it simple.
3. Wear a bathing suit.
July in Michigan is hot; temperatures are usually in the 80s. Most people wear bathing suits, at least under their clothes. Aside from the hot weather, there’s a foam pit and water slide you’ll want to hit to cool off.
Seating is first come, first serve. There is simply a large grass area in front of both stages — walk up as far as you can, or sit back in the grass in your own lawn chair — either way it’s a blast. The grounds at the Michigan International Speedway are huge, so you’ll want to note where you left your chairs or group if you venture toward the stage or around the grounds. Note where you park as well, and take a parking lot shuttle to the entrance gate.
5. Don’t necessarily go all day, every day.
The best thing about Faster Horses Festival is it’s affordable — $185 for a 3-day general admission festival pass. That breaks down to only $62 a day to see over 10 artists per day. Even if you don’t go all day every day, your festival pass will be worth it. If there’s a few opening acts you don’t care to see, you could still go for just the headliners each night and it would still be worth $62 to see some of the biggest names in country music.
6. The food really is delicious (and water is free)…
The vendors at the festival go way beyond typical carnival food stands. From a Michigan favorite, Cottage Inn Pizza and elephant ears, to authentic barbecue and free water, the festival will not send you home hungry. The festival allows you to bring CamelBaks and empty water bottles to fill up at the watering holes. Stay hydrated — the sun (and alcohol) can be devastating.
7. …But bringing your own food is a great idea too.
The food sold at Faster Horses is on point, but expensive. Luckily, they let you bring a small (gallon) clear bag of snacks and one full, factory sealed, one liter plastic water bottle per person. However, you cannot bring a cooler, so pack your gallon bag wisely. Last year I was able to stuff Twizzlers (yes, they were necessary), chips, a few granola bars and an apple into a gallon bag, so it’s doable.
8. Brooklyn, Michigan is a small town.
Don’t expect a big, tourist town in Brooklyn, Michigan. Brooklyn is a quaint, country, small town with a few restaurants, a couple bars and a Country Market. If you want to check it out, I recommend JR’s Hometown Grill & Pub and Shady’s Tap Room for food and spirits, and Knutson’s Recreational Sales for the outdoorsy types.
9. Plan/pace drinking.
I mean it. You have to pace that shit. Take it from me — the hot sun and carnival rides combined with greasy grilled food and beers sold by the 24 oz. are recipes for a day hangover (the worst kind). The gates open daily at noon, so if you plan to go for the full day (ending around midnight), pace your alcohol consumption — maybe don’t start drinking until dinner, when the sun goes down, and the biggest artists are about to take the stage. That way you avoid the day-drinking dehydration that leaves you hungover by the time Brad Paisley comes out.
10. You don’t have to camp.
Camping not your thing? Me neither. While camp sites are in walking distance of the festival grounds and allow for awesome tailgating, Brooklyn, while small, offers other options for those wanting a shower after 12 or more hours of drinking, dancing, and petting farm animals. Less than 10 minutes from the festival grounds there’s a Super 8 Brooklyn, and other accommodations are located less than 15 miles away from MIS. My advice though, is to check out motel/rental property options on the surrounding lakes, such as Lake Columbia, Devil’s Lake, Clark Lake and Wamplers Lake.