Date: May 30th-June 3rd
Location: Ozark, Arkansas
Years Running: 10
Crowd: The crowd at Wakarusa was the best you could have hoped for in considering the conditions. After days of rain the fairgrounds became an enormous mud pit. The crowd handled it with smiles and dignity as most of the crowd was from the south and had dealt with the rain before.
Organization: Wakarusa was as organized as you could hope for considering the conditions. Muddy conditions makes everything more difficult. Wakarusa did have some issues getting people to their campsites and with the shuttles to the campsites located off location. I credit Wakarusa for putting safety first and shutting down the music when they received the unfortunate news of a tornado warning. This was not something they wanted to do, but safety has to come first when you are dealing with people’s lives.
The festival didn’t have any lines to wait in and they kept the porta potties as clean as you can expect during mud fest. You can’t ask for anything else on an organizational level.
Stages: The stages at Wakarusa were well done. There was the main stage which could hold the entire Wakarusa population if necessary, two tents that were great places to see shows, the Satellite stage which was the best stage in my opinion, and the Outpost stage which felt like you were seeing a show in a small country town. All of the stages had great sound and mad sure you always had options on what kind of music you wanted to see.
Landscape: The Gorge is covered with wild grass that is great for laying out on or dancing on. The main stage overlooks an gorgeous river and canyon that will be an image that you will never forget. Combine this with a skyline that displays bright sunsets and you have one of the prettiest views you will ever see.
Food: The food at Wakarusa was your standard festival food. You had a good variety of vendors to choose from with options including, BBQ, greek, pizza, chinese, and a few different smoothy options. The reason I am such a fan of Wakarusa’s food is the drink prizes. You could buy a can of domestic beer for $4. You could buy a premium beer for $5. These prices are unheard of in the festival world. Good work Wakarusa!
What makes the festival special? Wakarusa really felt like a family festival. From the crowd, to the artists, to the staff; everyone felt like family. I also have to say that the mud made this festival special. Once you accepted that your feet are going to be muddy, it actually became fun to watch everyone navigate the stages. As long as you didn’t fall, which did happen to a few, the mud turned into something that provided a great deal of laughs and funny situations.
Overall: Overall I would give Wakarusa 4 stars. When you consider how crazy the weather was for this event, you have to give the promoter props on keeping everything going so well. I would absolutely go back to Waka and plan on bringing as many friends as possible.
See you next year!