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.
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.
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.