State rains on Wakarusa parade

Festival didn't have lease for event

There won't be a Mardi Gras-style parade Saturday at Wakarusa Fest. It's been canceled.

But don't blame the weather.

State officials pulled the plug after realizing the event wasn't part of the festival's lease on Clinton State Park.

"Any special event had to be specified beforehand," said LeAnn Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

"A parade wasn't part of the contract," she said.

Schmitt said the department is not opposed to allowing parades at state parks.

"If they want to have a parade next year, I'm sure the details can be worked out and added to the contract," she said.

The cancellation caught festival organizers off-guard.

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Special to the Journal-World

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band will perform Saturday at the Wakarusa Festival. The members were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and now are scattered throughout the country. They were going to lead a parade, but the state put an end to it.

"All I know is that the state called and said we weren't allowed to do the parade," festival spokeswoman Heather Lofflin said Wednesday.

The now-canceled plans called for the New Orleans-based Dirty Dozen Brass Band leading an open-to-all, Mardi Gras-style parade through the staging areas, complete with floats, costumed participants and a 50-foot Chinese dragon.

Whether a parade is added to next year's contract remains to be seen.

"We like the idea, but at this point, plans for next year are pretty much up in the air," Lofflin said. "I can't say anything definitive."

For the use of Clinton State Park, festival organizers agreed to pay the state $30,000, plus $3 for each of the first 10,000 attendees and $4 each after the first 10,000.

The festival also put up $8,000 for water-line improvements.

Last year's attendance was about 50,000 over the course of the festival, with daily attendance capped at 15,000.

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