Archive for Sunday, June 10, 2007

Festival not built for boomers with outdoor aversions

June 10, 2007


Boomer girl

I wanted to go to the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival this year. I really did. OK, not really. But I wanted to WANT to go.

I was too young to go to Woodstock in 1969, according to my parents, who couldn't warm up to the idea of a 13-year-old girl hitchhiking from Kansas to upstate New York. (Mom and Dad were SO unfair!) Watching TV news reports of 400,000 exhausted, mud-drenched hippies gyrating to Santana in the rain, I remember thinking, "Why do THEY get to have all the fun?"

Wakarusa might be as close to the Woodstock experience as I'm ever going to get. So I weighed the pros and cons:

On the plus side, there was the freaky people-watching. Hardcore festivalgoers are a fascinating lot, with their rainbow hair, intricate tattoos, bare midriffs of every fathomable shape and size, not to mention their entertaining, freeform antics. There would be enough high-quality freaky people watching at Wakarusa to hold me until I get to San Francisco later this summer. (Never underestimate the power of freaky people-watching. No matter how weird or out of sorts you might feel on any given day, spending an hour watching freaky people immediately puts your personal strangeness in perspective.)

That was about it for the pros. The cons, on the other hand, were so numerous they require bullet points:

Con No. 1: Camping

Back in the day, I did a fair amount of communing with nature. In spite of bug bites, unbearable humidity, dirt and uneven sleeping surfaces, I pretended to enjoy it because bonding with friends around a campfire was the thing to do. (And because there were always plenty of things one could consume to make you forget you were camping.)

Today, I have a magnet on my refrigerator that shows a '40s-era woman lying in bed with a dreamy smile on her face. Her thought bubble reads: "I love not camping." That magnet pretty much sums up my definition of happiness.

Con No. 2: Seasonal allergies

Three days and nights surrounded by acres and acres of Kansas hay? There isn't enough Allegra-D in the world.

Con No. 3: Port-A-Potties

Arguably one of the most brilliant inventions known to man, the Port-A-Potties play a critical role in the festival setting. The older I get, however, the less I'm able to stomach the, uh, aesthetics of outdoor comfort stations. No matter how they jazz them up with mirrors on the doors, fancy toilet paper holders or those overwhelming high-octane air fresheners, I'd rather crawl through fire than walk into a Port-A-Pottie at the end of a long, hot summer day.

Con No. 4: PDAs (Public Displays of Affection)

I'm all for freedom of expression, and you could never call me a prude, but I don't enjoy forging my way through a crowd, only to trip over two people blithely caught up in the final stages of foreplay. And, let's face it, "get a room" isn't exactly constructive advice when you're in a wide-open field.

Con No. 5: The heat

When I was 20 years old, "hot" meant upward of 90 degrees. Three decades later, thanks to plummeting estrogen levels, my threshold has lowered considerably. Heck, I'm burning up right now, and it's 72 degrees in my office.

Con No. 6: Naked kids without earplugs

Festivals CAN be family fun, but please, freaky people, if you're going to twirl with your babies in front of the stage all day, put a pair of diapers and earplugs on them.

Con No. 7: Too many bands I've never heard of

I've always been a music lover, so I checked out the Wakarusa lineup in hopes of finding one of my favorite bands. You know, groups like The Eagles, Traffic : heck, I'd even take Mott the Hoople. To my dismay, I recognized only four of the more than 70 bands on the schedule. Four. Out of 70.

And while I'd love to check out acts like Four Fried Chickens and a Coke or Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, based on name-strength alone, my desire did not outweigh bullet points 1 through 6.

Am I saying I'm too old for the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival? No.

Definitely not. Because as soon as organizers provide air-conditioned RV rentals, VIP suites for climate-controlled concert viewing, ear plugs and diapers for all naked babies, and throw a few sets to some aging reunion acts from the '70s, I'm there, man. I'm there.

- Cathy Hamilton is editor of and a 51-year-old empty-nester. Events recounted here may be embellished, exaggerated or completely made up because she can't remember squat anymore.


Shane Garrett 10 years, 11 months ago

I had a great time with great music.... Words I could actually make out.... at the Salina river fest. Oh, stayed at the nearby holiday inn express... which had a pool for the kid. And speaking of kids they had a lago land, puppets, play ground. Most watched by the 7 year bead making. Cost for three day ticket...10$ And the only freaky people were the "locals form Salina". Sorry Salina folks.. love the fact that you could bring in your coolers of light beer.

Nick Yoho 10 years, 11 months ago

Cathy,don't you know you can go home every night?It can be nothing more than a concert experience,if thats all you want from it!Peace

unelectable 10 years, 11 months ago

Your 13 year-old self is crying. She'd love Wakarusa!

Crossfire 10 years, 11 months ago

I recognized only four of the more than 70 bands on the schedule. Four. Out of 70. 66 chances to experience something new...and you missed it.

maxcrabb 10 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, way to take everything i enjoyed about Wakarusa, and turn it into a negative.

Besides, I saw more older generations this year than before. Maybe the change in demographic came after the crackdowns last year?

Either way, went all yesterday and it was a blast!

maxcrabb 10 years, 11 months ago

And i'm sure you could have afforded a VIP ticket, which promises air conditioned bathrooms, private camping, and two meals a day, plus free food and drink.

Keith 10 years, 11 months ago

Is she channeling Jean Teasdale from the Onion?

nicole 10 years, 11 months ago

YOU ARE too old for wakarusa. however, hundreds of folks older than you are not.

Linda Hanney 10 years, 11 months ago

Amen to the Smoky Hill River Festival (Salina), Wallythewalrus. I appreciate the fact that we have choices in our music festivals right here in Kansas, though.

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