Wakarusa Music Festival & Campout

Hailed as one of the most anticipated festival line-ups of the season, the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival is set to descend upon Lawrence Kansas – that’s right, Kansas – June 8 through 11, at Clinton State Park.
 By Heather Lofflin

Yet, this isn't just some backwoods party. Last year, the festival fell into the national spotlight by hosting an estimated 50,000 music lovers over a four-day period from all 50 states and five foreign countries. This year, the festival has nearly doubled the number of artists that will be performing, boasting 150 scheduled acts, yet will continue to sell the same number of tickets. Featured artists include the Flaming Lips, Gov't Mule, Les Claypool, and Buckethead - just for starters.

"We anticipate another sell out this year," said Brett Mosiman, festival co-director. "Sales are ahead of what they were last year. At less than a dollar per set of music, it's the most incredible value imaginable, not to mention an entire vacation package."
Wakarusa is situated at Clinton State Park, with a 7,000-acre, man-made lake as a backdrop and 11,000 acres of accompanying park land. If the music wasn't enough, camping is part of the price of admission, as well as regular park activities, including 50 miles of trails for hiking or mountain biking, swimming, boating, and disc golf. The park is home to many species of wildlife, including Bald Eagles during certain times of year. In fact, the setting has moments of true serenity.

"This is the festival where music meets Mother Nature," Mosiman said.

The "Home Grown" Stage will be added to the Wakarusa scenery this year, sponsored by Leeway's Home Grown Music Network, featuring performers who won Battlerusa contests in their hometowns (the festival's answer to the traditional battle-of-the-bands contest), as well as other acts. Bands set to perform on this stage include Rose Hill Drive, Brothers Green, Four Fried Chickens and a Coke, Hillstomp, and Julia Peterson and the Breaks.

Along with the almost seamless schedule of music, the festival offers a number of additional activities. Slated for Saturday evening is a Mardi Gras-style parade, featuring a costume contest and a 50-foot Chinese dragon, welcoming the participation of all attendees. Yoga will be offered for free each morning, as well as a drum circle Sunday morning, which invites all festival goers to participate with any beat makers they can find. Waka-Radio will also fill the airways, broadcasting on 90.7 FM from the festival grounds, featuring interviews with artists and reports from a roaming reporter.

Wakarusa also extends an opportunity for amateur musicians to perform at The Porch, the festival's on-site beer and coffee house. However, amateurs wishing to perform must contact the festival prior to the event to schedule a performance time (info@wakarusa.com).

The free No-Waka Shuttle is again set to cart festival goers around the grounds and into the city of Lawrence. A number of vendors will be on-site, including food, arts-and-crafts, an artists' Poster Village, and official Wakarusa merchandise. The festival also will sell showers, recordings of music from this year's festival, and the Wakarusa General Store will offer firewood, foodstuffs and items campers may have forgotten.

Children have also been included at this festival. A special campground has been set aside for families with built-in quiet hours, and a number of activities will be offered, including musical programs, learning stations, interactive displays, face painting, musician workshops, painting-and-drawing tables, and instrument building. For details of what will be happening at Wakarusa, including a site map, visit www.wakarusa.com

Mosiman explained that one aspect that makes this festival unique is its grass-roots nature, since it is put together without the input of large corporate entities, like Ticketmaster or Clear Channel. He said the festival is chiefly constructed by people he has worked with for years - friends, employees and fellow music lovers.

"That keeps it personal," he said. "The way this thing is put together really sets the stage for a great vibe all around."

Tickets are available through the Wakarusa website www.wakarusa.com and a number of point-of-sale box offices, which are clubs and record stores through out the country; a complete list can be found on the website.

Currently, top-billed acts scheduled to perform at this year's festival include: The Flaming Lips, Gov't Mule, Les Claypool, Disco Biscuits, Oteil and the Peacemakers, Todd Snider, Gabby La La, Bob Schneider, Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, Jackie Greene, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Truckstop Honeymoon, The Avett Brothers, Trampled by Turtles, Del Castillo, Virginia Coalition, Groovatron, Green Lemon, Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, Bootyjuice, Benevento-Russo Duo, ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra), Cracker, Donna the Buffalo, Jake Shimabukuro, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Delta Nove, Backyard Tire Fire, Yonder Mountain String Band, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Keller Williams, The Greyboy Allstars, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Cat Empire, Assembly of Dust, The Mutaytor, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Railroad Earth, Bernie Worrell and the WOO Warriors, Buckethead, Perpetual Groove, Tim Reynolds, New Monsoon, Shooter Jennings, Tea Leaf Green, Brother's Past, Pnuma Trio, Lucero, MOFRO, Camper Van Beethoven, Lotus, Andrew Bird, Shanti Groove, Yard Dogs Road Show, Rose Hill Drive, Honeytribe featuring Devon Allman, Sound Tribe Sector Nine (STS9), Moonshine Still, William Elliot Whitmore, Papa Mali, Hot Buttered Rum, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Chris Berry & Panjea, Bassnectar, Will Hoge, White Ghost Shivers, 56 Hope Road, Alfred Howard & the K23 Orchestra, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Samantha Stollenwerck, Hackensaw Boys, Deep Fried Pickle Project, The Reverend Horton Heat, Zilla, Hurra Torpedo, Probably Vampires, Rocky Votolato, Jesus Christ Superstar, My-Tea Kind, Big Thumb, and Big Metal Rooster.