- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

JONESVILLE, Mich. (AP) - It might not be Woodstock, but a new music festival coming to Jonesville in September is trying to emulate the tamer - and more musical - aspects of the 1969 festival.

Jake Bearinger, 23, and his grandmother, Donna Bayliss, have been patching together “Wildwoodstock” - the name a play on the (in)famous three-day reverie now considered the harbinger of a cultural revolution - next month, booking local artists and organizing the event with little time to waste.

“It’s my first time doing anything like this,” Bearinger told the Hillsdale Daily News ( http://bit.ly/1Lph1xk ). “But I’ve been thinking about it for months. A lot of my friends knew I wanted to do it, so once I got the OK, I had to go for it.”

Bearinger plans to use most of the campground’s extensive square footage to host somewhere near 10 bands in the single-day music fest. He hasn’t quite compiled a full list yet, but Russ Kendrick Martin, Joe Valentine of The Copper Stills Band, Hooflip, Randomrare, All Arms, The Double Cross’d Band, No Breaks and Mosherville Station’s own Casey “Rockin’” Rowe are set to round out the day’s performances.

“It’s actually going really well,” Bearinger said - a bit of a surprise for an experimental festival thrown together in a matter of weeks. Bayliss is handling the legal logistics - licensing and so forth - while Bearinger is preparing the grounds and securing the talent.

It’s not hard to imagine Wildwoodstock gathering at least a modest crowd; the campground’s open spaces, generous tree coverage and pond-side beach are begging for the pounding feet and clapping hands of hundreds, if not thousands, of country and rock fans from Hillsdale and Jackson counties.

Bearinger hinted that he has those hopes in mind: He started planning for Wildwoodstock in earnest after he “heard about the Goose Lake Jams from the ‘70s,” he said. That festival, properly titled the Goose Lake International Music Festival, took place in August 1970 in Jackson County.

For three days, some 200,000 rock fans packed into 390 acres in Leoni Township to hear some of the biggest names of the day: Mountain, Chicago and Jethro Tull headlined a long list of rock bands to play at the festival.

Of course, this isn’t 1970 and Bearinger doesn’t have the time or money for today’s expensive rock acts. But that doesn’t mean that Wildwoodstock can’t attract its own crowd with local performers.

“Our target audience is anyone who loves music,” Bearinger said. “A lot of people say, ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ with respect to the basic festival mentality. (Wildwoodstock) will be unique in its own way with the atmosphere and younger to middle-aged crowd.”

While the event will be open to music lovers of all ages, Bearinger said that it will also feature the sale of alcoholic beverages and other refreshments for those who can legally partake.

The combination of the outdoors, energetic music and alcohol can get problematic - but Bearinger also said that between himself, his grandmother and his friends, he believes they’ll have enough manpower to enforce strict rules in case things get rowdy.

“We’re playing it safe,” Bearinger said. “We don’t want our first try to be a flop. We’re staying skeptical, but hopeful - and hopefully, we’re building a platform for future festivals in coming years.”

Wildwoodstock is scheduled for Sept. 12 at Wildwood Acres Campground in Jonesville. The event’s $10 tickets include admission to the campground, and children 5 years old and younger are allowed free entry.

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Information from: Hillsdale Daily News, http://www.hillsdale.net

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