Scenes from the 2018 Imagine Music Festival in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Caren West PR.

Imagine Music Festival creators talk new location, challenges of producing a live music event for this fall

Glenn and Maddy Goodhand are making a major move with their Imagine Music Festival. 

The couple, who promote their events as Iris Presents, announced earlier this month that the electronic-dance music gathering would expand again to its new location of Bouckaert Farm in Chattahoochee Hills (yes, former site of TomorrowWorld). 

The new location provides them both a long-term deal and 8,000 acres of ground to present the festival – compared to 900 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the recent location for Imagine, and 10 acres in its original home of the Masquerade Music Park in downtown Atlanta. 

Imagine Music Fest can boast of being the longest-running EDM festival in the city – it launched in 2014 – and continued growth means attendance of about 25,000 fans per day.

While the festival isn’t scheduled until Sept. 17-20, this is a challenging year to produce ANY type of live music event - never mind one with a mushrooming fan base – and the Goodhands are acutely aware of the uncertainty of the next few months.

The couple addressed their plans for developing this year’s festival, as well as the status of the lineup announcement and the benefits of the new location. 

The 2018 Imagine Music Festival at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo by Drew Dinwiddle)

What made this the right time to move?

Maddy: We’ve been keeping an eye on that venue since TomorrowWorld was there and have a good relationship with the Bouckaert family. It was never really the right time because there were some infrastructure improvements needed. Every year after Imagine we’d go visit the farm and see where they were with the infrastructure. The paving of the roads was really critical. 

Glenn: Talking to the city (of Chattahoochee Hills) allowed us to put everything on site and that was important. There had been some problem with putting Uber on site (previously). 

What other infrastructure did they improve?

Glenn: There is more lighting, more water. They expanded their stables and maybe at some point it might make that area a hotel-like atmosphere.

What was appealing about the location?

Glenn: When you drive in, it’s just spectacular. The sunsets are breathtaking and incorporate our infrastructure into nature. It’s really beautiful with fun little patches in the forest and along the lakes. We’ve had some ideas of a beach on the lake, paddleboats on the lake. The site has limitless potential and the integration with nature is super appealing. We’re making sure we learned from CounterPoint and TomorrowWorld and the festivals before them. We watched very closely what’s happened in the past, and have been to most of (the other festivals) and saw what they did right and what they did wrong and learned from those mistakes. I think it’s a whole new level for us.

How will this change the camping aspect of the festival?

Glenn: The speedway had good capacity there. But the farm offers a lot more integration with nature, where we can have campgrounds in the forest and paths through the forest that make it interesting. 

What will this allow you do (setup-wise) that the raceway might have prevented?

Maddy: We’re going to be implementing a new beverage program and that opens the doors for a lot more possibilities with food and the level of service we can do. 

Glenn: We were tracking to do a steady clip of expansion. We’ve been about a 10-25 percent increase of numbers every year, but we do think the incorporation of nature and to have sound systems in the nature will appeal to different demographic. The Speedway were good partners, and that door remains open. But I think Chattahoochee Hills offers quite a bit more with the element of nature with music. We’re not just a music fest - we’re art, music, food. 

When do you plan to announce the lineup?

Maddy: We’re putting the final touches on it now. We’re really close. 

What do you think the future of festival-going will be? Do you think people will be quick to resume normal habits of hanging out with tens of thousands of other fans?

Glenn: We think about it all day, every day. The number one priority is certainly safety for our guests and we’re sensitive to that. But we rely on communication with government officials and those who have better experience who have guidelines as far as keeping everyone safe. We’re working with our public safety director and are in constant communication. When and if we have to start any distancing or whatever, we will do everything that is required.

Maddy: From the consumer side, I’m pretty sure when everyone is free they’ll be anxious to get back to normal. As long as we keep everyone safe.

Glenn: We want to provide a little hope that there are still a few festivals in the fall that are going to happen. 

Are you at all worried about putting all of this work and money into an event that, depending upon the state/health of the country this summer, might not be able to happen, even though September seems far off?

Glenn: Obviously we’re concerned and monitor every day. It seems like everyone is rescheduling things for middle-to-late September and October, so we think we’re OK. We’re trying to talk to agents and get different insurance. If we’re allowed to do it, we’re certainly going to give people the opportunity. 

Are you doing anything differently to plan this year's event based on the aforementioned unknowns?

Glenn: Just a lot of communication with agents, city officials and monitoring. We’re just trying to figure out what safety precautions we will have to put in place. We brought a team on that did a lot with TomorrowWorld and CounterPoint and they’ve gone through a lot of different challenges. 

Maddy: We delayed the announcement a little, but we’re happy that we could offer that glimmer of hope to people. 

For more information, or to purchase tickets to Imagine Music Festival, visit www.imaginefestival.com

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.  
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