Wakarusa music festival considers venue change

Shana Valencia, from Evergreen, Colo., hula hoops at the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival at Clinton Lake State Park in this June 8 file photo. Festival promoters are exploring their options of different locations to host the event. One option would move it to the Circle S Ranch and Country Inn in Jefferson County.

Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival promoters are exploring their options.

“We’re investigating the opportunities of places to host the event is all, and we’ve done that annually, so there’s really no news until after Thanksgiving probably,” said Brett Mosiman, the founder of the festival, conducted the past three Junes at Clinton State Park.

One option is Circle S Ranch and Country Inn in southeastern Jefferson County.

“That’s a big pull for us. We enjoy the guests that we’ve had from far away and from other countries,” said Mary Cronemeyer, who owns ranch with her husband, Jack. “We like to show them what a beautiful place Kansas is.”

Under a presented plan, the festival would be on about 300 acres north of the inn, she said. Last week, Jefferson County commissioners heard from Mosiman – and neighbors concerned about the effects of the four-day festival that attracts upward of 12,000 people and 120 bands.

Commissioner Don Edmonds, McLouth, said he asked to defer a vote until Monday.

“I wanted a chance to do some investigating on it before we make a decision,” Edmonds said.

The festival has been on public land west of Lawrence for three years, and proponents tout its economic benefit to the area. The festival was marred in 2006 by a traffic jam and 80 arrests related mostly to drugs or underage drinking.

The event went more smoothly last year, but attendance was down slightly.

Jerry Schecher, manager for Clinton State Park, said he would draw up a proposed contract, even though promoters have not asked for one.

Mosiman said it’s premature to call the Jefferson County site a final target.

“They were again one of the many potential sites that we’re investigating,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up back at the park like we have every year.”