Wakarusa 2009 - We're Not In Kansas Anymore*
UPDATE 6/5: Internet service at the festival is down indefinitely. If it's down for the rest of the festival, I will be posting a comprehensive blog afterwards—with tons of photos, video of the scenery here, and interviews with various festivarians, including organizer Brett Mosiman.
Whether you attended or not, welcomed or despised the influx of out-of-state visitors, or cared at all about it's arrival upon and departure from the Lawrence music scene, I think it's hard to argue that the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival is to-date one of Lawrence's most advantageous musical productions. WIth hundreds of bands, tens of thousands of new visitors to the state and millions of dollars in revenue for local businesses, it was 4 days of music and camping that certainly left a mark on the city and state.
But that's all gone now. Wakarusa is now a thing of the past for Lawrence, moved on to greener (literally) pastures atop rolling hills in Northwest Arkansas. (See our Wakarusa 2008 coverage here)
Because of the impact Wakarusa had and the continued impact it's departure will have on Lawrence, it would be a disservice to our community to not take note of its absence from town this week. After a falling out with local and state officials over security issues and permits, Brett Mossiman and his Pipeline Productions decided to take the show on the road and will be spending their 6th year putting on this festival in the new home atop Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, Arkansas.
For some - in particular the curmudegeonly commentators on LJWorld.com that liked to overly-simplify the entire festival and music scene into nothing but drug-abusing hippies - the departure of Wakarusa is something to celebrate. For people that actually experienced the event, we know that to not be (totally) true. But cultural splits are hard to resolve, so rather than rehashing the same old arguments that have been talked to death in the comment threads of every LJWorld story on Wakarusa, I'll just say that don't you worry, the same sentiments are likely alive and well in Northwest Arkansas.
But more on that later. First, an FYI to the devoted locals that attended the event, this may be a loss to the local scene to be mourned, but it's also an opportunity to get out of town and see some beautiful scenery in a nearby but perhaps new part of region.
For Lawrencians heading down to Ozark this weekend, I'll be there if you want to meet up and share your insights on how things have changed with the transition to the new location in Arkansas. For people staying home this year, but still interested in hearing how things are going down south, I'll be posting sporadic updates from the festival, so stay tuned for those!
In the meantime, if you're not caught up-to-speed on what we're referring to here, check out these links below for more on the drama that led us here.
June 15, 2007 - Organizers call this year’s Wakarusa Fest a ‘harmonious’ event
Nov. 20, 2007 - Wakarusa music festival considers venue change
Nov. 26, 2007 - Jefferson County rejects plan to host Wakarusa music festival
April 26, 2008 - Dust settles on past Wakarusa conflicts
Aug. 10, 2008 - Wakarusa Fest May Not Play On
*Okay, you knew that Wizard of Oz "we're not in Kansas anymore" reference would have to be made at some point, so I thought I'd get it out of the way as soon as possible.