As Wakarusa festival-goers roll out of town, recyclers step in

It had been more than 12 hours since the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival had concluded, but Vincent Scerbo and Laurie Marshall were in no hurry to pack up and leave.

Monday afternoon, they slowly loaded their car for the return trip to Springfield, Mo. But before they left, they planned to go down to a nearby section of the Clinton Lake beach and pick up trash.

“We’ve already been down there once this morning,” Scerbo said. “Every day is Earth Day.”

Scerbo and Marshall said the four-day music festival was the best they’d ever attended. They wanted to help with the cleanup before leaving.

“I think a lot of people were just like, ‘oh, let’s go,’ and didn’t bother to pick up,” Marshall said.

Only a few festival campers remained in Clinton Lake State Park by late Monday. Bags of trash were scattered over much of the park, but work crews brought in by the festival organizers were trying to clean up.

It will take most of the week to get the park back to normal, festival organizer Brett Mosiman said.

Ron Thomas uses a metal detector at the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival site in hopes of picking up the spoils of the four-day series of concerts at Clinton Lake State Park.

Campers were given trash bags and encouraged to put recyclable cans in separate bags, all to be left for pickup.

“I think a lot of people were being conscientious,” festival spokeswoman Heather Lofflin said.

Sunday afternoon a man was found dead near the main concert grounds entrance. The sheriff’s office Monday identified the man as William J. Pospisil, 29, of Key Largo, Fla. Officers do not suspect foul play but are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office described the festival crowd as peaceful with few problems. Officers made only one arrest, for criminal damage to property, Lt. Doug Woods said. The main problems were disputes between people over contested camping sites.

Ryan Shaughnessy, 19, Lawrence, helps with cleanup at Clinton Lake State Park after the festival. He peddled around the campgrounds Monday morning, filling his bag with cans.

Though sheriff’s officers did not make any drug arrests, Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control agents cited 35 people for various alcohol and drug violations, director Tom Groneman said. Most were for violations of the state’s minimum drinking age of 21. Others involved possession of marijuana and selling alcohol without a license.

The emergency room at Lawrence Memorial Hospital was busy treating patients from the festival, hospital officials said. A total of 44 patients were treated and four were admitted to the hospital. One person was transported to another hospital. Nine people were treated for drug and alcohol problems, eight for lacerations and three for problems such as twisted ankles and knees. No other details about the patients were released.

Third festival expected

About 50,000 people attended the four-day festival, more than double last year’s total, organizers said. Ticket prices may increase for next year’s event, Mosiman said.

LINK donations

A food drive conducted at the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival resulted in 900 pounds of canned and nonperishable food being donated to the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen, 221 W. 10th St.

The food drive was sponsored by Conscious Alliance, a group that conducts food drives at concerts, art and athletic events. The food was dropped off at LINK Monday with the help of Brad Nelson, owner of Teller’s restaurant, who had been assisting members of the organization during their stay in Lawrence, said Herman Leon, LINK vice president.

“We got a pantry full of food and a table loaded with cans of food,” Leon said. “It is quite a sight.”

Mosiman said he wanted the event to continue, but an increase in ticket prices would be considered to keep the crowd from doubling in size again next year. Tickets for a four-day pass this year were $119.

“We are fully aware that a lot of places don’t take on the extra chore of doing things like this and I think they (state officials) should be congratulated for their vision and in helping to bring such incredible tourism to the state,” Mosiman said.

The state would be willing to negotiate for the festival to be at Clinton for a third year if there are no major complaints, said Jerry Hover, head of state parks for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. He said Monday that he was unaware of any complaints about the event. The state does receive a fee for the festival, but Hover wasn’t sure how much that would be. The minimal contractual amount is $17,000, but he expected it to be higher because it is based on attendance, he said.

Hover said he was aware of the citations issued for alcohol and drug violations.

“Anytime you get a group of people, unfortunately there are going to be these types of problems,” he said. “Right now, looking over the reports I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t look like there is anything significant, other than what you find anywhere with that size of a group of people.”