Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Partiers take note: Police presence at Wakarusa Fest to double this year

May 4, 2006


Illegal drugs might not flow as freely this summer at the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival, scheduled for June 8-11 at Clinton State Park.

Event organizer Brett Mosiman said the police presence at the festival would be roughly doubled from last year as a way to cut down on drug dealing. For the first time, Kansas Highway Patrol troopers will be brought in to help the Douglas County Sheriff's Office patrol the campgrounds surrounding the festival.

"We've looked at our long-term success being tied to the fact that there aren't big, organized drug dealers that are able to run free at these events," Mosiman said. "There will be an adjustment from the fans. I'm sure that they're likely to recoil a bit if they see too many uniforms, in their eyes ... I trust that the officers will handle themselves very professionally, and that things will be fine."

Attendance for the festival is capped at 15,000. Last year, there were about 14,000 tickets sold, Mosiman said.

Mosiman said he expects to pay more than $100,000 total this year for private security guards and law enforcement officers, roughly double what he paid last year. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office will be paid about $53,316 this year, compared with $23,660 last year.

Between five and 19 sheriff's officers per shift will be working the festival this year, compared with three to 11 last year.

In addition, about 17 state troopers will be assigned to work the event, said Lt. John Eickhorn, a Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman.

"We will mainly be assigned to the campgrounds, where we'll be paired up with officials from the Douglas County Sheriff's department in making sure that everybody stays safe there," he said. "My advice would be for anybody attending, I would certainly leave any type of illegal contraband at home."

Last year, a 29-year-old Florida man died of a methadone and cocaine overdose at the festival. Also, Mosiman said there were reports that one of the police agencies impounded a car with a large amount of cash suspected to be illegal drug proceeds.

"I think that was a big wake-up call for them," Mosiman said. "I think they felt like they were understaffed last year on the enforcement end."

When asked if there were enough deputies at the festival last year, Douglas County Undersheriff Steve Hornberger said, "I don't know that I can answer that."

Wakarusa Festival 2005

More about the Wakarusa Festival


quigley 12 years, 1 month ago

Oh man! You mean we probably won't have as many transient hippies wandering around town for a couple weeks after the music fest? What a shame.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

This festival is really growing in popularity. I talked to a customer service rep regarding my hail damage, and she was all "I'm going to be there!" about the festival.

The only way to keep the festival going is to keep it safe. If bad things start happening at these events and things start getting out of control, then it won't last.

staff04 12 years, 1 month ago

That's right! It's hippie bashin' time.

meggers 12 years, 1 month ago

It remains to be seen how the increased police presence will impact the overall vibe of the festival. Bonnaroo always has a large police/security presence, but they only intervene when there is a safety situation that needs to be addressed. For the most part, they hang out, chat with festival-goers, give directions, talk about their horses (most of them are mounties), and just generally chill unless there's a problem.

People who are going to do drugs are going to do them regardless of the police presence. If the concern is truly about safety, rather than raking in more revenue for the city and county, then safety should be the focus, rather than busting people for smoking a little bit of weed.

billybeanbag 12 years, 1 month ago

Dang, the're going to drive all the fun out of it! I guess there's no reason to go now...

newsreader 12 years, 1 month ago

This is just like the South Park when they host a music festival and all the hippies move in and never want to leave...

There sure was a crazy amount of drugs there last year, thats for sure...

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

Billy B. Bag apparently thinks that the police will make it difficult for him to hear the music. Or, maybe he's not interested in the music, but rather something ELSE that will be going on...

badger 12 years, 1 month ago

It seems from the article that the organizers' concern is less about drug use and more about drug dealing.

Wakarusa is getting popular, and I think it's essential for the festival to continue that it not become known as an event for large-scale dealers to target as a good market. That element has a way of getting ugly and violent pretty fast.

billybeanbag 12 years, 1 month ago

Quote: Posted by OldEnuf2BYurDad on May 4, 2006 at 11:03 a.m. Billy B. Bag apparently thinks that the police will make it difficult for him to hear the music. Or, maybe he's not interested in the music, but rather something ELSE that will be going on...

What?! They play music?! Well that changes everything! Everyone knows music and drugs don't mix!

Way to harsh my mellow! ;-)

hipper_than_hip 12 years, 1 month ago

Did anyone see the episode of South Park where Cartman drives the tunnel boring machine into the hippie lovefest, and then he plays Slayer to run the hippies out of town?

"Damn hippies!"

Where's Cartman when we need him?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

Yes, even if some of us (not me) think that the occasional doobie is of no harm, we definitely HAVE to keep the Topek..., er, I mean DRUG DEALERS, from getting a foothold.

Billy B. Bag: If you can't say "No", then at least try to stay away from the brown acid. I heard somewhere that the brown acid is bad.

quigley 12 years, 1 month ago

Oh god, the hippies have already formed drum circles here, here, and here....

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 1 month ago

Filthy hippies. I can smell the patchouli already. Ugh. As John Lydon famously stated: "Never trust a hippie".

local_support 12 years, 1 month ago

Definitely don't trust a hippie. They show and pump your local economy full of money, don't bother anyone and then spread tales of how nice the locals were all across the country.

Yeah, hippies sure do suck.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

Last year, I didn't even notice their presence. They seemed to keep themselves at the lake, so what do I care? Besides, with our new noise ordinance, if they brought their drum circles to Lawrence, they would get shut down PDQ.

BorderRat 12 years, 1 month ago

Ya gotta watch those Hippies. You might get a group of "Giggling Stoners" in the attic or a drum circle in your backyard.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 1 month ago

"They show and pump your local economy full of money"

Really? You mean the money they earn by drawing with chalk on the sidewalks? Trust-fund hippies? Capitalist hippies? See, they are not to be trusted.

local_support 12 years, 1 month ago

The people that come to music festivals obviously must have money to burn since tickets are over $100 a pop. You must be one of those emo kids, sitting at home on a Saturday night trying on tight fitting jeans while applying black nail polish and lamenting your bad luck being born a middle class White American. "Waaah, how could this happen to me?"

By the way is "yourworstnightmare" the name of your crappy band that no one will come and see down at the local Teen Town? Keep on trying kid.

Darrell Lea 12 years, 1 month ago

I've worked at regional music festivals like this one the last several summers, and it's safe to say that over 95 per cent of the attendees at an event like this are not problem drug users. The additional police presence will do a lot to maintain the level of safety for all concerned.

There is an element that tries to attach itself to events like this just to sell their stuff and party as absolutely hard as they can. It takes a presence like what's described in the article to deal with that.

Go Brett!

local_support 12 years, 1 month ago

Easy, I just assumed due to his immature posting that he was just another pissed off youngster channeling his inner hatred of himself towards others.

And I never expected anyone to know what an emo kid was either. : )

gphawk89 12 years, 1 month ago

"they're going to take all the fun out of it..." It IS possible to go to a concert, to have fun, and at the same time do nothing illegal. I've been to probably 200+ rock concerts, have never drank alcohol or done illegal drugs at any of them, had a great time just enjoying the music and watching the bands and the crowd, and of course since I didn't overtly make an a$$ of myself I've never been hassled by the security. I feel sorry for people who feel they can't have fun if they're not drunk or stoned.

bthom37 12 years, 1 month ago

Sadly I might go Saturday, since Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker, and Les Claypool are playing then. However, I could do without the 8 hour wait surrounded by dirty hippies between the first 2 acts and the last one.

meggers 12 years, 1 month ago


It it will be such a hardship for you, you should probably just stay home, pop in a CD, spray some Renuzit, and dance barefoot on your nice, clean carpet.

jwmound 12 years, 1 month ago

Sure are a bunch of closed minded people for people who proclaim themselves as liberals.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 1 month ago

Saturday might be worth braving the hippies. I saw Camper open for REM in 1986 and again headlining in 1987. Saw Cracker in 1991.

Camper and Cracker in the same night? Busy night for Dave.

I wanted to see Son Volt and Wilco last year, but was out of town.

monkeyspunk 12 years, 1 month ago

Last year law enforcement policy was to be ligh, in that unless they saw someone blatantly selling or using they would approach and simply take away the drugs.

This year...its going to be a little different.

Alot of hippies are going to jail, or atleast something similar and more localized.

Kelly Powell 12 years, 1 month ago

I'll be at smithville lake hitting people with sticks and drinking beer with them afterwords.......

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