Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cameras, checkpoints gone

Organizers hope to improve safety while letting crowds have a good time

Preparations are under way at Clinton State Park for the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, which is June 7-10. Festival organizers are working to make the event safe and enjoyable after some security concerns last year. Scott Thompson, of Kansas City, Mo., helped unload some 14,000 feet of fence Tuesday for the festival. It will take a crew of five about a week just to set up the fence.

Preparations are under way at Clinton State Park for the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, which is June 7-10. Festival organizers are working to make the event safe and enjoyable after some security concerns last year. Scott Thompson, of Kansas City, Mo., helped unload some 14,000 feet of fence Tuesday for the festival. It will take a crew of five about a week just to set up the fence.

May 30, 2007


New motto for WakFest security

It will be a kinder, gentler approach to security at the upcoming Wakarusa Music Festival. Enlarge video

Three questions with ... Paige Blair, of Lawrence, Kansas University senior from Chicago

Paige Blair talks about her experience at Wakarusa Festival last year and why she plans to return for some of the action this year Enlarge video

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It's being billed as a kinder, gentler Wakarusa Fest.

Officials say there are no Kansas Highway Patrol vehicle checkpoints or hidden cameras planned for this year's Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, set for June 7-10 at Clinton State Park.

Area and state law enforcement agencies say, though, their operations will be similar to those at last year's festival, which attracted thousands from across the country.

"We've all taken a look at suggestions for improvements and tried to address those to make the festival better as far as safety and security," said Lt. Kari Wempe, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

Last year, more than 80 people were arrested - most on drug or underage drinking charges. Weeks after the festival, fans learned that experimental hidden cameras were also placed on the campgrounds. That, along with a Kansas Highway Patrol check lane near the Kansas Turnpike and Kansas Highway 10, brought objection from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Festival director Brett Mosiman said last year about 15,000 people attended the event each day. He expects "near capacity crowds" this year with performers including Widespread Panic, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, and Les Claypool.

"We do hope (for capacity crowds). We have probably our biggest lineup," Mosiman said.

The festival's corporation, Wakarusa Music Group Inc., has spent several months meeting with the contracted law enforcement agencies and others to help plan changes. Several festivalgoers complained last year that the law enforcement presence was too aggressive.

"There's certainly a possibility that there could be an impact (on attendance) from last year, but we hope not," Mosiman said.


Workers began setting up tents, five to six miles of chain link fence, 100 portable toilets and stages this week. The venue will be similar to the 2006 festival, Mosiman said, with six stages for about 120 bands.

Several area businesses like to see the festival in town, as it is one of their busier weekends, particularly for grocery and department stores. Campers buy supplies, food and bottled water.

"It's certainly a worthwhile event. We're glad it's close," said Stan Thompson, operations manager for Hy-Vee at 3504 Clinton Parkway.

The store also will operate a general store on the campgrounds again, he said.

Festival changes

Mosiman said, based on feedback and suggestions, the festival will include "kinder, gentler and more respectful security." Also, a director of security will coordinate all security and medical efforts.

A new "St. Bernards" program will involve dozens of "highly visible" and specially trained customer service representatives on duty to help provide anything from information to first aid for campers and festival patrons.

Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. John Eichkorn said troopers will have a presence on area highways and in the state park to assist Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks officers and others. But troopers do not plan to operate a vehicle check lane similar to the one last year near the Lecompton interchange.

Eichkorn said checkpoints are not effective if they are always in the same place for a regular event.

"They are really used more as a deterrent when you can move the thing around," he said.

Mosiman said security will inspect vehicles as they enter the festival for items not allowed on the campgrounds and illegal substances. The entrance will include five lanes for vehicles instead of the two used last year, in hopes of avoiding a replay of traffic backups on Clinton Parkway that stretched at times to Wakarusa Drive.

"We don't anticipate any traffic or wait issues with the entrance to the festival," he said.

Security issues

Other criticism about last year's festival came months later when those who attended learned that about a half-dozen hidden cameras were used to oversee about 85 percent of the festival grounds. The equipment was used courtesy of a California security company as the state tried to crack down on drugs a year after a festival attendee died from an overdose.

Wempe, the Douglas County sheriff's spokeswoman, said the system, which is expensive, will not be used this year.

"What little use we made of it, it wasn't worth it to come back out," she said.

Kansas University senior Paige Blair said last year she saw law enforcement officers search a neighboring campsite.

"It kind of threw off the whole peaceful atmosphere," she said.

Blair plans to attend next week for evening performances but won't camp at the festival.

Mosiman said communication with state park and area law enforcement agencies has improved during planning this year.

"We are trying to be more courteous, more responsive. We have also amped up our security forces so it will be a safer event for everybody," he said.


perkins 10 years, 8 months ago

I'm liking today's articles a lot. Interesting topics, well-written, informative articles. Sensible of the authorities to become more heavy-handed last year after the previous year's drug death, although one squirms at the thought of hidden cameras.

Sigmund 10 years, 8 months ago

Those that violate the law, any law, should be arrested and prosecuted no matter if it is at a KU sporting events, NASCAR races, or the Wakarusa Drug and Music festival. I expect the City and the State to use any legal tactics available to them to do so. Remember kiddies, get busted in Lawrence and it is little more than a parking citation, but get busted outside the City limits and its a full blown criminal offense that can and will impact your ability to get a job and pay off those student loans that you will no longer be eligible for. Despite cries about the supposed "unconstitutional and illegal tactics" used by Law Enforcement last year, no successful challenge, or any challenge, made it through the Courts.

compmd 10 years, 8 months ago

Jesus H Tapdancing Christ, logrithmic, you need a thicker tinfoil hat? I'd be happy to sell you some. You know, to keep out the CIA mindbeams that tell Them that you are thinking like a nonconformist.

By the way, the irony of your post is that you go on about government being dictatorial and abusive and then proceed to use the term "Islamic-fascist."

I did need a laugh this morning, thanks.

conservativepunker 10 years, 8 months ago

Damn. The dirty hippies win. Eviscerate the Proletariat!

trinity 10 years, 8 months ago

i just want to know how/where i could get a one-day pass for a REASONABLE amount of money! i think i shall simply perish, if i don't get to see the asylum street spankers live! :)

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps we should set up those cameras and checkpoints at KU football tailgating or how bout those NASCAR weekends at the racetrack. How many busts for drunk driving would occur?

I agree. The checkpoints serve a purpose. If it will prevent a single drunk driving incident, then it is worth it.

Ragingbear 10 years, 8 months ago

Those that challenged the legality of the cameras and the checkpoints had their charges dropped in exchange for them not pursuing that.

And if cameras are hidden, then how do we know they aren't there?

bearclaws 10 years, 8 months ago

Pilgrim (Anonymous) says:

Most of the whining came from either those who got caught breaking the law or those who were afraid they'd be caught breaking the law.

Bruce, I'd have to disagree with you on this one. I worked at the festival, and felt their overbearing presence. I did not, nor did I have any intention of breaking the law.

BlackVelvet 10 years, 8 months ago

Go ahead and let them have their drugs at their music festival. If they have to do drugs to enjoy the music, perhaps they need better music......and when one or two or more of them OD and die, don't come whining that the authorities weren't there to help! Several HAVE died at past festivals, of drug overdoses...duh....

imastinker 10 years, 8 months ago

People don't want to stop drunk driving or drugs. If they did, we'd be serious about this stuff.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 8 months ago

conservativepunker wrote: "Eviscerate the Proletariat!"

Which is fun to say. Especially in a low, guttural voice with eyes rolled in the back of your head just outside the Bourgeois Pig.

Sigmund 10 years, 8 months ago

I know of not a single case where anyone who challenged the hidden camera's had their charges dropped. In any event, here is something to ponder. If the police lie to the public about their future tactics, and those tactics are otherwise completely legal, is the evidence admissible in Court? In other words, can the police lie to potential criminals and still submit evidence obtained by lying? If you are considering doing drugs at the Wakarusa Drug and Music Festival and you rely upon these statements of a "kinder gentler" drug enforcement, you are a complete idiot.

Aiko 10 years, 8 months ago

I very ignorant statement SIggy! Hope to not see you out there.....

cstern71 10 years, 8 months ago

Everybody knows what goes on at WakFest. Drugs. We all know it.

I really get tired of people complaining about the police. A "good" police officer took the job to enforce laws. It is their job. It doesn't matter what your opinion of the law is. I want the police to uphold every law because it is their job. They themselves might not agree with it, but they have a job to do.

They might not handle things correctly at the festival and be overbearing, but I bet they have a reason. Considering 99.9% of people I have encountered in my life have or do smoke weed, it is only reasonable to assume this figure holds up for WakFest.

I guess the police should look the other way when everyone is just having a good time...

Ragingbear 10 years, 8 months ago

The crime is not possession of drugs, it's failure to bring enough for the police.

liberty4all 10 years, 8 months ago

Anonymous user

Sigmund (Anonymous) says:

I know of not a single case where anyone who challenged the hidden camera's had their charges dropped.

Of course you probably don't know of a single case that was prosecuted using evidence from the hidden cameras either. Unless the Douglas County Sheriff's Department and Douglas County District Attorney were lying at the ACLU forum when they stated that the hidden camera evidence was not used in prosecution of a single case. Therefore, you are correct but your point is completely moot. The reality is that these cameras were only used to spy on people.

We'll see how bad Douglas County wants the 8 million dollar weekend that could otherwise just go away. If it really bothers you that 15 thousand people most of which are from out of town come to Clinton Lake and have a fun weekend, (yes many will get intoxicated but practically none will be operating vehicles on public roadways) and then leave for the rest of the year, then you need to find a hobby or something to occupy your time because you are far too bored with your life.

reginafliangie 10 years, 8 months ago

Thank you estern71, my feelings exactly. When people do their jobs they get yelled at, when they don't do their jobs they get yelled at. How can anyone win? I'm sure when there were OD's and deaths resulting in that, they (parents, friends, etc.) are the first to yell that the cops weren't doing their jobs (and saving lives) are the same people who complain that their rights are being violated. As ridiculous as laws seem to some, no matter, if you break the law and get caught you have to pay the piper. Either break the law in your own home or face the consiquences, you are after all in a public place were laws will be enforced to keep everybody safe, hopefuly.

reginafliangie 10 years, 8 months ago

I have a question liberty4all, why is it only drinking and driving don't mix? I have seen plenty of people get intoxicated and act like crazy people, breaking things, fighting, etc. They don't have to drive to cause damage or hurt others.

kmat 10 years, 8 months ago

All I can say is I have known some of the organizers of this event for decades. Don't trust a word from them. There are tons of these festivals around the country, and good bands aren't going to put up with KS b.s. when they can go to other, great music fests. If you are heading out there, watch your backs.

If you want a great fest to attend, try Dogstock in July at Melvern, KS. Great lineup, much cheaper ticket prices than the rip off that is Waka, private property and no harassment. Plus, dogs are welcome! $60 for five days of music, camping is allowed, over 100 artists (Jerry Garcia Band, Steve Kimock, New Riders of the Purple Sage). And the proceeds go to the Akita Rescue fund instead of in the pockets of these promotors. Good cause, good music, no harassment.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 8 months ago

The_Original_Bob noted that " 72% of all statistics are made up."

I challenge you to substantiate that claim....

Sigmund 10 years, 8 months ago

My response was to RagingBeers comment "Those that challenged the legality of the cameras and the checkpoints had their charges dropped in exchange for them not pursuing that" and my words were chosen carefully, "I know of not a single case where anyone who challenged the hidden camera's had their charges dropped." Anyone who misleads Festival goers into believing that the "kinder gentler" policy will not include legal surveillances and drug enforcement is doing them a GREAT DISSERVICE.

jayhonk 10 years, 8 months ago

Todd Snider - Statistcian's Blues Wakarusa 2006 Quote: 64% of the world's statistics are made up right there on the spot 82.4% of people believe them whether they're accurate statistics or not I don't know what you believe, but I do know there's no doubt I need another double shot of something 90 proof, I got too much to think about

Joe Hyde 10 years, 8 months ago

Last year I did a lot of camping at Clinton State Park. When the Wakarusa Fest came I camped elsewhere to avoid the crowds. Nothing personal, I just don't like big crowds when I'm in the Great Outdoors.

Anyway, I wanted to comment on the fantastic cleanup job that was done at the park last year after the Fest closed. In about three days all -- and I mean all -- trash was picked up, bagged and removed. Apart from a few worn areas in the turf (that quickly healed) a week later you could drive into the park and never suspect that tens of thousands of people had recently been partying there.

If every outdoor concert around the country had this same excellent cleanup work getting done there'd be a lot more good shows around for people to enjoy. You can't do it any better than how Wakarusa Fest did it last year.

justthefacts 10 years, 8 months ago

  1. If you don't want to get busted, know the law and don't break it.

  2. No check-points and no hidden cameras does NOT equal no enforcement of drug, alchohol, or other laws. There will quite likely be law enforcement agents in the WAK crowd, and not all of them will be wearing uniforms. So, see #1.

pelliott 10 years, 8 months ago

Anonymous user

justthefacts (Anonymous) says:

  1. If you don't want to get busted, know the law and don't break it. one might add
  2. and have honest law enforcement or
  3. pay off the man,
  4. be the right color.
  5. live on the right side of the tracks.
  6. Don't get in the way of corporate profits.
  7. only do white collar crime, where the only harm is you make retired people homeless. Only the guilty is a song sung by an idiot.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 8 months ago


"When the President does it, that means it's not illegal."

--R. Nixon

KsTwister 10 years, 8 months ago

Supplied my 20 something kids and a few cousins. Some are back from Army,Marines and College and so surprised and excited it was worth every penny. Just a few bad apples in the crowd can't be helped sometimes but those can crop up anywhere, so what, enjoy.

KsTwister 10 years, 8 months ago

Yes, left it off......supplied them with tickets!!

liberty4all 10 years, 8 months ago

reginafliangie (Anonymous) says:

I have a question liberty4all, why is it only drinking and driving don't mix? I have seen plenty of people get intoxicated and act like crazy people, breaking things, fighting, etc. They don't have to drive to cause damage or hurt others.

My comment merely stated that the vast majority of these intoxicated people would not be on the public roadway (as opposed to events where people commonly leave while intoxicated). Therefore being a menace to the community (especially those that do not wish to have Wakarusa effect their lives). For the most part the people that attend Wakarusa expect a certain degree of intoxication. Personally, I haven't had a drink since 1987 but I choose to take my entertainment in this community. I have been to Wakarusa every year and of course there are people that have had a little too much too fast but there are far more that are enjoying a fine weekend and partying responsibly. I have seen very few incidences of violence or aggression at Wakarusa. In all honesty the worst thing that I have ever seen at Wakarusa was the overbearing police presence last year that made me feel like I was in some sort of concentration camp, this was the first time that I truly did not feel safe (I was nearly run over by two uniforms on an ATV).

icallbullshiat 10 years, 8 months ago

Since when does the Sheriff and KHP Colonel have any obligation to discuss security measures with any concert promotor, regardless if it is Mosiman or anyone else hosting a venue. They have a duty to uphold the law...period. I am so sick of this tree hugging liberal city that it makes me sick the way our officials bow down to any public pressure. Stand up for what is right and carry out the oath of office. Add saturation patrols, cameras, KBI, Drug Enforcement, ABC, ATF, and, of course, our friendly drug sniffing K9 partners.

Ragingbear 10 years, 8 months ago

Icall, if you look at his posting history, it is quite apparent that he is a police officer. No doubt the type that have sent people emails here trying to "Score a deal", trying to trap people by offering to purchase drugs. Just look at his posting history, and you will see what I mean. Not to mention that his login name violates the LJW TOS. But I guess if your a cop, you can do whatever you dang well please.

Leprechaunking13 10 years, 8 months ago

Funny, these people who are saying that cops need to enforce every law, probably broke atleast 3 or 4 today. Why don't you all go turn yourselves in for speeding, not using your turn signal, I personally have seen plenty of people break the law driving in the rain, the last week or so by having their wipers on and not their headlights. These cops had better get on it and bust these law breakers or this town will turn to complete anarchy! Truth is that the courts are way too backed up for every cop to bust everyone for every little law that is broken, so they learn to relax and give people breaks for petty stuff. Also is another reason pot was decriminalized. Plus how many laws are outdated and need to be dropped or changed? With the festival there are too many people in a small area breaking the law for the officers to arrest and/or ticket everyone so they will try to go for a source of the problem, but there is no way that they can prevent the festival goers from doing drugs and partying while they are there. The city needs the revenue that is brought in by this event! Why bring actions against the majority of the people coming to attend this event. If we continue to harrass the people coming from across the country to be a part of the festival, then they will stop coming back and there goes a nice chunk of change they bring with them to spend in our city.

Sigmund 10 years, 8 months ago

Whatever, lets start with criminal violations (misdemeanors and felonies) performed in plain view on public property by large numbers of people from out of town. Then we can work our way down to parking tickets and simple moving violations. Just because we don't bust every law breaker doesn't mean we should ignore all crimes. You'd have to be stoned out of your mind to buy that ...."logic." Or we can only bust those activities that logjam wants. What a great idea that would be.

Sigmund 10 years, 8 months ago

Marion, I have no problem with legalization of marijuana and I might even support that cause as long as it involves something more productive than holding a "Honk For Hemp" sign downtown.

What I do have a problem with is selective prosecution of some people and not others. That leads to a situation where law enforcement gets to arbitrarily pick and choose who to prosecute. I would much rather have consistent prosecution of a law I disagree with than, for instance, allowing the police to pick and choose who to investigate or a political DA's office to decide who to prosecute while ignoring others. What if they decide only to prosecute their political opponents and allow their supporters to engage in the same activity?

If there is a law on the books, enforce it. If it is a bad law don't ignore it, get rid of it.

Kelly Boyle-Wolfe 10 years, 8 months ago

Gosh....all this drama over a music festival. I for one hope that it goes well and many of the business owners profit from such a large event that brings so many people from all around the country to our humble town.

Flap Doodle 10 years, 8 months ago

spam, spam, spam, lovely spam

Reprinted under "Fair Use"

leadrain 10 years, 8 months ago

If folks aren't breaking the law, they should have nothing to fear. With that said, I'll say this " DON'T BRING MORE THAN YOU CAN EAT IN 20 SECONDS.

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