featuring Widespread Panic, Medeski Martin & Wood, Yonder Mountain String Band, and more TBA
- When: Friday, June 8, 2007, time TBA
- Where: Clinton State Park, Clinton Lake, Lawrence
- Cost: $119 - $435
- More on this event....
In many respects it's just a trailer. Cozy, clean and stationary.
It's encircled by a charming yard, with statues, flowerpots, birdbaths, picnic tables and several American flags waving in the wind.
But the fact that the Jayco trailer has been situated permanently between the two largest stages at the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival makes it rather unique. For eight years, Perry Buck and his wife, Wanda, have lived year-round at this spot at Clinton State Park. And for one weekend in June, they have ringside seats to the region's largest music festival.
"I was a little apprehensive at first because you don't know what you're going to get. As time went on, I saw it was going to be fun rather than a chore," Buck says.
Buck admits he was concerned when Wakarusa cropped up in 2004 about what type of clientele it might attract.
"That all dissolved as I began to meet the people. I've met people from 40 different states. This is like a family reunion to me now," he says.
The 67-year-old Buck says he is forever being bombarded with questions by festival newcomers.
"They ask, 'Do you live there? You don't move? You don't mind?'" he says.
Buck has become so well-known around the festival grounds that he's even earned a nickname: "Paparusa."
"Perry is just a joy," says Brett Mosiman, founder and organizer of Wakarusa.
"He loves helping the festival. We have a fantastic relationship with him. He's a very personable, fun-loving guy who really enjoys seeing us come to town."
Mosiman says not all of the semi-permanent residents at the park are as socially enamored with the event as Buck.
"I can imagine some of them might not be the most excited to see us because their lifestyle is changed for a couple of days," Mosiman says. "But I just put it in the category of the greater good. We try to be a really good neighbor. I still assert that it's a phenomenal use of state property. There is definitely a peaceful coexistence out there."
Ironically, Buck claims he isn't much of a music fan.
His wife will customarily inspect the festival's lineup online, but he "doesn't need to know the names."
He'll often set up chairs behind the trailer and listen to the acts. The spot offers a perfect view of the side of one stage and the back of another (though this year marks the first time Wakarusa has abandoned the eastern stage).
Occasionally, an act will be compelling enough that Buck will venture to the front of the stage to watch.
"There was this one Mexican-type band," he recalls, possibly referring to L.A.'s Ozomatli. "I'm telling you, they really played music. It was so good and loud. I stood up right at the stage, and I could feel my heart pounding: bump, bump."
Wakarusa bands start early and finish late, often jamming until the sun comes up. When Buck isn't interested in listening to them, that's not a problem, either.
"I take my hearing aids out," he says. "I've got about 65 percent loss."
While his trailer and yard are considered backstage - and festivalgoers need special passes to get near there - Buck can't really differentiate between the artists and worker bees who congregate in the area.
"I haven't met anybody famous," he says. "At least I don't think I have."
Security and traffic
Like many festival patrons last year, Buck has strong opinions about the security/surveillance issues that led to traffic snarls, invasive searches and general dissatisfaction with Wakarusa.
"I had a yard full of policemen. But I don't pay no attention to them. I used to do that, so it doesn't impress me," says Buck, who served on the Lawrence police force for a few years in the 1960s.
"In one sense they're here to protect everyone, even from themselves. But as far as the cameras went with keeping an eye on things, I thought that went a little too far. They weren't just watching one facet of the concert. They were watching everybody."
As far as the traffic problems, Buck was less ruffled.
"They have those at Kansas City Chiefs games. Why can't we have them here?"
Currently, Buck is semi-retired. He drives a school bus - coincidentally for Wakarusa Valley School. (He'll actually miss some of Thursday and Friday's festival while he drives Girls State participants to Topeka.)
A Lawrence native, Buck and his wife of 42 years moved into Clinton State Park 12 years ago. He continues to volunteer for the park.
"I do mowing and pick up trash - whatever it takes. And they pay my bills," he says.
For one weekend, that mowing includes working with the Wakarusa staff.
"We get along real good. I mowed that great big field with that little mower yesterday," he says, pointing to the Sun Down Stage. "It took 10 hours."
The Bucks also enjoy some additional company during Wakarusa.
They have two teen grandchildren from Valley Falls who stay in the trailer for part of the weekend. The youngest boy volunteered at the festival last year, handing out bags of ice.
Buck hopes to share in the Wakarusa experience for years to come.
"You couldn't ask for better neighbors," he says. "It would take something pretty dramatic to make me change my mind."
With all the commotion around him - the golf carts zooming to and fro, the semis unloading stage materials, the sound checks going on - Buck stops and points at the field behind his trailer.
He says, "Come wintertime, when you get a layer of snow, there's nobody here but us."