Archive for Sunday, June 11, 2006

After three days of music, madness, heat and police, Wakarusa hits high note

Crowds soak up atmosphere, tunes

June 11, 2006


Bainbridge Fitzgerald, 7, was ready to hear the band Keller Williams & the Keels take the stage Saturday evening at the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival.

It was the soon-to-be third-grader at Wakarusa Valley School's third Wakarusa festival. His family's mere presence this year is a testament to their enthusiasm for tunes and the event's outdoor atmosphere.

Bainbridge's new little brother is due today, but mom, Ali Mangan, was at Clinton State Park on Saturday and ready to rock out.

"We're just popping in every day - just to 'Waka' the baby out," Mangan said.

Mangan and her common-law husband, Justin Fitzgerald, Bainbridge's dad, have been together for almost 10 years.

Bainbridge, his parents and their friends were part of the thousands who made it to the campgrounds for a good time and to hear music on a day when the festival's stages were jam-packed with bands for hours.

"It's just the atmosphere, man," Justin Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald's friend, Brandon Emberton, of Lawrence, said he embraced getting together with old friends and "celebrate being buds."

"It's a time of year where everybody's got such a positive attitude. It makes everything so much easier," he said.

Several people at the festival - in its third day on Saturday - said they cherished the free-spirited and easygoing setting that the jam sessions and musical acts complemented.

Clouds shaded festivalgoers from the heat late Saturday afternoon, and the festival appeared to dodge a bullet as most of the heavy rain appeared to fall north of Douglas County.

In the middle of a large crowd, wearing a tie-dye shirt and listening to Bernie Worrell and the WOO Warriors, Jonathan Mader, of Kimberly, Wis., flew a kite with the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon character as its insignia because it was a "beautiful day," he said.

"Dude, the SquarePants, rock on," a passerby said.

Rachel Merriman, of Denver, made the trip to Lawrence with friends. Earlier in the week, they nixed the camping idea and are now spending their nights in a hotel after seeing the festival's stricter security days ago, she said. Merriman said at this type of music festivals people "tend to take care of each other."

"I'm here for just the experience of being around a lot of people who are here to experience something different," she said. "I like the music scene. I like to travel, and it's summertime."

As of 10:30 p.m. Saturday, law enforcement agencies had arrested 101 people since Thursday, mostly on suspected drug- and alcohol-related possession charges, said Lt. Doug Woods, of the Douglas County Sheriff's office. A majority of the arrests involved charges of minors purchasing or possessing alcohol, he said, and no major disturbances had occurred.

Officers with the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control have assisted at the festival. According to Douglas County Jail records Saturday evening, law enforcement officers had arrested about 30 people since 8 p.m. Friday.

Medics at the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical reported few injury incidents on Saturday, division chief Jerry Karr said Saturday night. Capt. Pat Talkington said earlier that medics had treated a few people for minor injuries and transported two people to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Of those transported, one person suffered from a "medical condition" and the other person suffered an apparent drug overdose.

As the guitar solos and booming sounds continued on the stages Saturday evening, many festivalgoers said they were waiting for the headlining band, The Flaming Lips, to play at 10:30 p.m.

Dawn Steelman, of Lancaster, Pa., drove in with a friend and has enjoyed the performances in the first three days.

"I liked hearing Delta Nove last night. That was my favorite so far," she said.

Recent Kansas University graduate Sam Shepherd relaxed in the shade and enjoyed his first Wakarusa Festival. He and his girlfriend, Rachel Deem, of St. Louis, brought their bicycles so they could move easily from stage to stage.

"It's nice that some of the smaller bands I've heard have been good," Shepherd said. "Some of the larger bands I've been disappointed with."

They also enjoy the variety of bands.

"This is nice because it's so laid back," Deem said.

Amid the beats resonating from the stages, crowds began to emerge from their campsites and trickle toward the grass area in front of the stages for the evening acts.

One family's dedication was not in question.

"We'll be here next year with a 1-year-old boy," said Mangan, who is due to have her second boy today.

Wakarusa Festival 2006

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Staff writer Ron Knox contributed to this report.


OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

Maybe I'm assuming too much, but is that the best place for a 7 year old? Between the drugs drunks and "whatever else" those things lead to, it doesn't seem like the best place for a kid.

Or, maybe the "get bent and barf" crowd all congregates in one area, and the "we just wanna throw a Frisbee" crowd hangs out somewhere else.

My gut says this is not where a kid should be. I hope I'm wrong. I'd like for Lawrence to have a safe, drug-free event like this every year. Done right, it could be a real enhancement to the community; but keeping it safe and drug free will be a huge challenge.

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

Oh, my! Land sakes alive! Well, I never! I do declare! Well, shut my mouth! Goodness gracious! Oh, mercy me! Lord, save us!

geekin_topekan 11 years, 9 months ago

I think it would be a great place to expose kids to sun and fun.Otherwise they might turn out like Old/dad up there. Just think what a fun guy he may have turned out to be if hed been given the chance.

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

I try to leave all my values at home, when attending an event. Or, lock them up securely in the trunk of the car.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

I certainly wouldn't take a child into the heart of the crowd late at night, but the "out-of-control" element is actually a very small minority, and almost all of them are out of control in the direction of being too friendly and exuberantly happy. Parents with kids have no problem finding suitable areas and events and relatively quiet camping areas.

rtwngr 11 years, 9 months ago

Are you, paladin, marion, geekin, and bozo, saying it is ok for parents to be exposing their children to drug usage? Are you seriously trying to argue that they can screen their children from this kind of activity during this event? You people just cannot deal in reality, can you? This is not an event suitable for children. Period!

But, hey, you know what. It's a free country and if these parents feel the need to expose their children to this so what. I just can't believe that anybody would try to justify it.

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

No. I'm saying its none of my bidness.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 9 months ago

A friend of mine who has been attending the festival told me about the "friendly and fun-loving atmosphere" out there. Despite all of the attempts at curbing drug use, people are taking hits from bongs left and right. People are running around naked and openly having sex in the lake. Sounds like a fantastic environment for a third-grader...

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, could be educational, depending on one's perspective. But, most value judgements do. Depend only on one's perspective, that is.

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

Hey, I know! The Authorities could throw up some wire, post some armed guards, and start a whole new concentration camp right out here close. The one in Cuba in so far away. And, there are so many dangerous and undesirable misfits who are deserving of indefinite or even permanent confinement. Why reserve the concept for the Muslims? It would be so much more efficient than having to round them up later, individually, when they commit crimes or otherwise further disrupt the established order. But, what about the kids? Oh well, they're already ruined and doomed, so lock them up, too. Wakarusa National Detention Facility. Has a comforting sound to it, doesn't it?

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

macon, with all due respect, that's nuts.

Sigmund 11 years, 9 months ago

Open sex at the lake! I assume you don't have to pay extra, its included in the price of a ticket and only $150 for the weekend? Where are the pictures in the LJW? All we got is some hottie hanging out of a car for two days and she had clothes on. Typical LJW shoddy journalism.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 9 months ago


"Genesis 2:25 states: "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." (KJV)."

Yep, that's right - the man and his wife. Not "the man and his wife, the neighbors down the street, little Timmy from the Johnson's house, and the mailman."



Kyle Carter 11 years, 9 months ago

I'm very thankful that my parents weren't as paranoid as some of the people on this board. While you're at it, you'd better not let your kids go to school. Lots of kids skip class to smoke pot, no? What if someone offered your kid a hit on the way back from Wendy's over lunch?!? I've heard stories of kids having sex in the bathrooms during class period! My Lord! Just last week I saw someone drinking a beer openly in his backyard. The humanity! EVERYONE LOCK YOUR CHILDREN IN A SMALL ROOM WITH NO WINDOWS! THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE OUR CHILDREN! CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE!

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

.....the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. -FDR, 1st Inaugural Address

Richard Heckler 11 years, 9 months ago

We had no reservations about attending events such as these with our children. They went through a period when this music was terrible however our son is having a wonderful time at Wakarusa. From time to time we would throw in a Peter,Paul and Mary show what with all that political talk and kid songs. The Baltimore symphony was okay as well. Lots a children go to a variety concerts with parents so far as my observations are concerned. Exposing children to as many cultural venues as possible is all about education.

Young children don't seem to be bothered with naked bodies cuz they spend so much time that way. We had days when no matter how hard you tried the children simply did not want to wear clothes inside or outside.

Then again these events are not for everyone.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 9 months ago


What in the holy hell are you talking about??

Somebody call the doctor, because that boys cheese has definitely slid off the cracker...

alm77 11 years, 9 months ago

We took our kids last night and they saw no nudity, no drugs and no one that was obivously drunk. They did see a really great performance and good music. They also got to see some jugling, lots of glow sticks and light up jewelry.

As a matter of fact, the only nudity I've seen was a toddler getting her clothes changed.

You have no idea what is going on if you haven't been there.

usaschools 11 years, 9 months ago

Get a life you old farts. If you go to grocery store you will see as many people drunk or on drugs. Music festivals are not evil places where children should fear to tread. Do parents need to use good judgement? Of course, just like the other 364 days of the year. Music, fun outdoors, no nintendo, no video games, out in the sun and rain getting exercise and hearing great music; sounds like a perfect place to be a kid! Not to mention the fun of camping out!!!!!!!! Way to go Wakarusa parents!

paladin 11 years, 9 months ago

That zacly what Marion, he talkin bout. The Holy Hell. Da one we make fo our own sef, hea on dis earf.

eskimopieinKS 11 years, 9 months ago

I don't skinnydip anymore

now it's the chunky dunk

Confrontation 11 years, 9 months ago

I suppose taking kids out there just to watch the music, and not camp and spend the weekend, wouldn't be too bad. I would hate to imagine the drug/alcohol abuse and the disgusting acts that kids would be exposed to if they were camping there. I guess if a parent feels the need to expose their kids to that type of human waste, then I sure hope their kids aren't in their care for much longer. When people are messed up on LSD and other crap, there are no limits to what they will do to other people. No wonder we have so many messed up kids and adults today.

matahari 11 years, 9 months ago

Human waste? Isn't that an oxymoron, or at very least redundant? I suppose someones' imagination has been working over time. They only wish they were having that much fun. I'd rather be there than at a 'snake handling' religeous fest, or handing over my earnings to a bunch of paid liars on Sunday. I think the reason some of the 'kids' are so messed up ;) these days is perhaps someone is trying to fill their head with visions of going to hell. Amen!

Confrontation 11 years, 9 months ago

matahari: It's funny that you would assume my opinion of protecting children would somehow be religion-related. If you looked at some of my past posts, then you would realize that I am not a fan of religion. I'm also not a fan of crazed druggies being around kids. If kids are camping there, and people are using drugs (often including the parents), then the parents are stupid for having them there. However, I do agree with you that religion often messes up kids.

EvaTrujillo 11 years, 9 months ago

I've volunteered at the WakaFest, last two years. I think it's fine to bring your seven-year old or other young-uns. There is a family camping area (further away from everyone else) with a noise curfew, and even has bath houses. The thick of the camps may be problematic due to the partying but not all are like that, and of course I'm infering my parenting style by even saying that comment. The concerts are exceptional.

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

You know, I've been attending pagan festivals for ten years, which have an even worse reputation than music festivals.

I've heard all the allegations of what we do out there in the woods with our devil-worshiping and infant sacrifice and all (actual accusations leveled about 5 years ago when folks tried to get a festival permit revoked - withdrawn because they were flat libel and utterly untrue). And I've seen people out there with their kids, having a great time. All sorts of families, interacting in community and having fun. I've seen the community, as more folks in it become parents, shift to become more kid-friendly and concerned about making sure that kids had activities and entertainment.

From this, I've learned some things:

  1. Never believe the bad press spread by people who haven't actually been somewhere, just 'know someone who heard or saw something once.'

  2. If you allow kids in, there's a good chance an event will become family-friendly even if it wasn't before.

Unless I actually saw the public sex and drug use happening in kid-populated areas with my own eyes, I'd be pretty well inclined to dismiss it as hysteria and rumour.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 11 years, 9 months ago

My son attended the festival Saturday with my 8 year old granddaughter in tow.

She saw one instance of what some might consider nudity; a young woman whose upper body was painted in latex. Luckily, even at her young age my granddaughter is able to recognize that art doesn't have to be on canvas or indoors, and not everyone has to agree that it's art.

One person approached my son, offering to sell mushrooms. My son said no thank you, and afterwards told his daughter that mushrooms are a drug just like marijuana or alcohol, but aren't the same kind that she picks off her pizza.

They went for the music and that's what they found. She hasn't stopped talking about it since. She'll remember being 8 and dancing in the night with her dad for the rest of her life. How can that possibly be wrong in any way?

geekin_topekan 11 years, 9 months ago

iblong,we're you at wakafest? Just curios.

I spent me early twenties following a circuit of Ren Faires about the country.Now that was a campfest that really needed to set down some guidelines.Mostly in the name of liability issues. Imagine sending your kid to an "art" festival to work in the mountains over the summer and having them return home tattoed and pregnant. Those shows were held on private property and the lack of police presence was also very evident. Needless to say...I had a blast!!

reginafliangie 11 years, 9 months ago

Buh bye waka fest goers. 90% of you were decent and enjoyed yourself. The rest ruined it for everyone else. And if you didn't like the cops or other things then don't come back. I personally can do without the rudeness and utter lack of respect for other people. When you attend an event with thousands of others you need to have basic human respect for others this fest was not "just your party".

acg 11 years, 9 months ago

Wow, some of you people's parents really messed ya'll up.

I'm just going to take this opportunity to thank whatever Gods may be for sending me mellow, relaxed parents. I'm glad I can pass down, to my children, a way of life that doesn't require an all consuming, uptight feeling of guilt about every freaking thing in the world. What a shame!

EvaTrujillo 11 years, 9 months ago

Parenting is subjective. One legal-guardian/parent may clearly be offended by the offer of shrooms and call the whole event a drug-infested pit, but another legal-guardian/parent would consider this an opportunity for communication about illegal substances -and their offspring witnesses that nothing bad happens when you tell a dealer "no". And still another parent may counsel their offspring with something like, "Don't take drugs - from strangers". These ways of parenting also apply to Phred One legal-guardian/parent may clearly be offended by him and call his church a bunch of bigots, another legal-guardian/parent would consider this an opportunity for communication about bigotry ("Some bigots carry signs, others do not."), and yet another may counsel their offspring with something like, "god hates the sin but loves the sinner". The Wakafest as any other camping festival becomes a village with seedy areas, upscale areas, and like-minded families whether nomadic or out for vacation time from their day jobs and day-care. The concert areas are pretty benign.

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