Festival returns, retools format

Organizers hope to draw more locals to Wakarusa Fest

"Three Days. Three Stages. Over 50 bands."

That's no longer a boast but a yearly promise from the organizers of the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival.

The festival announced it will return the weekend of June 17-19.

"We had almost 100 percent positive feedback from last year's festival," says Brett Mosiman, co-organizer of the festival.

Lawrence's largest-ever music festival debuted this past June at Clinton Lake State Park and drew a paid attendance of around 7,500.

"We sold tickets in 44 states, but we didn't feel like it was too well-embraced locally," says Mosiman, who said about 20 percent of the crowd was from Kansas. "That was perhaps the problem with lots of other failed and mismanaged events over the last decade or so."

Among the changes he envisions are fewer shows early in the day because the night performances received bigger crowds. The number of bands will be pared down from 75 to 50. Vendors and musical acts will be encouraged to enter the campgrounds, not just the concert area. And family-oriented activities will be introduced.

Artists scheduled to appear at Wakarusa Fest 2005 include: Gov't Mule, Ozomatli, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Little Feat, Junior Brown, Split Lip Rayfield, Son Volt, The Samples, Garaj Mahal, Calexico, Mofro, Railroad Earth, Donna the Buffalo, Hackensaw Boys, Greyhounds, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Blueground Undergrass, Tea Leaf Green, Shanti Groove, ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra), The Gourds, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, The Schwag, Matisyahu, The Jeff and Vida Band and Truckstop Honeymoon.

"I would say we've only announced about 30 percent of the weight of our talent," Mosiman says.

The organizer claims the lineup will continue to stress diversity. Among the more unusual highlights this year is Matisyahu, a Hasidic Jew transplanted to New York from Israel who performs reggae music while attired in full Hasidic garb.

More information on the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival can be found at www.wakarusa.com.

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