Music fest up in air

Clinton likely site for huge event; officials, public, promoter discuss concerns about lake venue


Amanda and David Van Vleet, of Roeland Park, dance to the tunes of Sound Tribe Sector 9 at last year's Wakarusa Festival at Clinton Lake State Park.

Tickets sales start today and the band lineup for the second Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival continues to grow -- but the production company putting on the show doesn't have a venue for the massive music event.

As of Thursday, there was no contract between the company and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to hold the event at Clinton State Park, where the festival was held last year.

Pipeline Productions President Brett Mosiman said Thursday night that he thought the event, which drew an estimated 7,500 people to the community last year, would remain at Clinton.

Ticket sales for the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival begin at 10 a.m. today. People can purchase tickets online at Prices are based on when tickets are bought:

  • Early Bird: $79 through March 15 or when sold out.
  • Regular Ticket: $99 through June 15 or when sold out.
  • Procrastinator Ticket: $119 at the festival's gates.
  • The individual tickets are three-day passes that include access to all shows and next-to-car camping.
  • People also can purchase VIP tickets for $295. VIP tickets include special camping and food privileges.

"Sometimes the needs for the private sector versus the public sector are different," said Mosiman, who attended a meeting to figure out how the state park might better accommodate large crowds and big events. But the meeting also allowed Wildlife and Parks officials to gauge community support for large events such as the Wakarusa festival.

"I'm sure that (the Wakarusa festival) probably will be at the park," said Jerry Hover, parks division director for Wildlife and Parks. "They want to do it. We just want to make sure people are in agreement."

Clinton State Park manager Jerry Schecher said it was important to hold the meeting to hear what people from the community thought about large scale events at the park. He said he had received an increased number of inquiries from people wanting to hold larger events, such as triathlons and bike races, at the 1,400-acre park west of Lawrence.

Trends are changing, he said. Fewer people are holding family barbecues and picnics at the state park and more people from the private sector are wanting to take advantage of the outdoor venue.


Elizabeth Wrege, of Indianapolis, dances with a hula hoop during last year's Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival. Festival organizers are working with Clinton Lake neighbors and the general public to discuss concerns about this year's festival.

"I think this is the direction the department should take," he said. "I think we need to do more larger events. I think we are a perfect venue for these events. But we don't want to get ahead of ourselves."

Law enforcement officers and emergency responders did have some general concerns with staffing large events at the state park, but said the music festival went well last year.

The most negative comment came from Matt McPherson, 43, who prefaced his complaint by saying he didn't want to sound like "a grumpy, old man." McPherson, who lives near the state park, said music blaring very early Monday morning last summer as the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival wrapped up was too loud even for him, a music lover.

"My problem with it was because I needed to get up at 5:25 a.m. for work," he said. "The only other problem I have is that they didn't have the festival 25 years ago so I could have really enjoyed it. But I think it's wonderful they're using public land, and I think it's great that they have something the kids can go to and want to attend."

McPherson said he hoped the music festival continued so he could take his family to it in about 10 years.

And a long-lasting, well-run festival is what Schecher said he wanted to see.

In a time when state funding is scarce, larger events at state parks can provide a boost for the Wildlife and Parks.


City and state officials, along with Clinton Lake neighbors and the general public, gathered Thursday night to discuss how to hold major events at Clinton State Park, such as the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, without degrading the lake or its surroundings. This aerial shot shows a view of the Clinton Marina with boat slips at top and a boat storage yard at bottom left.

Country Stampede, which takes place at Tuttle Creek State Park near Manhattan, has meant a $50,000 paycheck, said Dick Koerth, assistant secretary of administration for Wildlife and Parks.

But just because big events help the department doesn't mean that everyone who wants to hold a big event at the state park will get the chance. Schecher reviews proposals, and those he deems viable he passes along to top Wildlife and Parks officials, who give the final answer.

"My philosophy is, we don't do this just for the money," he said. "We do need the money. But this also is public property open for all types of recreation. If money was the only reason, I don't think I'd be doing it. That would impact the quality of the event."

But an area business owner said he hoped there would be ways to attract more people to the park.

Mark Davis, owner of Clinton Cove Convenience Store near Clinton State Park, said his store had some amazing business during the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival.

"It was just crowded and the parking lot was packed all weekend. It looked like a parking lot," he said. "It was a bonus for us. We didn't know what to expect."


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