Archive for Monday, October 27, 2008

Jefferson County commissioners postpone action on Wakarusa Fest move

An aerial view shows the Wakarusa Camping & Music Festival at Clinton State Park. Festival organizers want to move the event to the Circle S Ranch, but Jefferson County Commissioners won't make a decision until next week.

An aerial view shows the Wakarusa Camping & Music Festival at Clinton State Park. Festival organizers want to move the event to the Circle S Ranch, but Jefferson County Commissioners won't make a decision until next week.

October 27, 2008, 1:50 p.m. Updated October 27, 2008, 4:36 p.m.


Jefferson County delays decision on Wakarusa Fest

Plans to move the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival from Clinton Lake to a rural Jefferson County ranch are still up in the air. Enlarge video

2008 Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival

The fifth annual Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival starts on June 5th and runs through June 8th. Organizers are planning on more than 13,500 guests, which would make Clinton State Park the second-largest city in Douglas County until the festival wraps up. See videos, photo galleries, the Wak Talk blog, Best Bets, and more about the Wakarusa Fest.

Don't get the cowboy hats out just yet.

Plans to move the Wakarusa Music Festival from Clinton Lake to a rural Jefferson County ranch are still up in the air.

Jefferson County commissioners said Monday that they needed more time to consider whether the county's roads, sheriff's department and other infrastructure can handle the three-day camping and music festival.

Commissioners said they will decide the issue next Monday, after receiving reports from each of the county's department heads on how the event would impact county services.

A crowd of about 50 people attended Monday morning's county commission meeting. Members of the crowd presented a petition with more than 300 names who oppose the festival moving from Clinton Lake to the Circle S Ranch site, which is about 12 miles north of Lawrence.

"Our infrastructure cannot handle an event of this magnitude," said Leanea Wales, who lives and raises cattle on property next to the proposed site.

Festival organizers, though, said they were committed to working with the county to resolve infrastructure and public safety concerns. Festival promoter Brett Mosiman said his company would give the county $2 from each ticket sold to help cover expenses. He also said if the county did not have the staff to provide some services, he would hire private companies to ensure that necessary medical and public safety staffing levels were met.

County commissioners did not tip their hands on whether they would approve the special-use permit for the festival. The three-member commission last year rejected - on a 2-1 vote - a similar request from the festival organizers. But Commissioner Don Edmonds, who voted against the project last year, said he's willing to reconsider.

The county's Economic Development Commission also is urging commissioners to approve the request. The economic development group believes the event could generate tens of thousands of new sales tax dollars for the county.

Several Jefferson County department heads, though, expressed concerns. Public works leaders questioned whether winding Wellman Road could handle vehicles carrying the 10,000 to 20,000 people that the event could draw. Concerns also were expressed about the gravel road that leads to the ranch. A health department leader also questioned whether organizers would be able to secure enough portable toilets to adequately serve the site, and the sheriff said it would be difficult for his force to provide enough deputies at the site.

Mosiman, though, said he felt there would be plenty of time to work out concerns before the event, which would be in mid-June.

"As producers of this event, we understand it is our job to deal with the traffic and the law enforcement and the sanitation," Mosiman said. "We're very confident. We have done these in parking lots and fields. I think this can be a neat fit."

Mosiman also addressed concerns from commissioners that his company still owes the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks about $25,000 related to this year's event at Clinton State Park. Mosiman said the bill hasn't been paid because he's contesting the fairness of the charge.

The bill is for labor costs related to state employees who were onsite during the Wakarusa Festival. Mosiman said he doesn't think those charges are fair after it was reported by the Journal-World in August that the state does not charge the Country Stampede - a similar concert event at Tuttle Creek State Park - for the same type of services.

County commissioners are expected to consider the permit issue about 10 a.m. Monday at their meeting at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Oskaloosa.


cowboy 9 years, 5 months ago

Number one Mosiman seems to be getting flakier on each event , number two he's done pi$$ed in his whiskey at Clinton , and number three , Wellman road cannot handle that amount of traffic nor any emergency that might occur . Recipe for a real disaster.

mmiller 9 years, 5 months ago

bearlybrewed - I take it you are neighbors with Circle S? Have you been involved with the meetings, etc? Be proactive as you can. Call commissioners, call the media, call Circle S, have a meeting with the residents surrounding the proposed site. I wonder if the festival organizers think they are dealing with some clueless, backwoods type commissioners. I get that feeling sometimes. I hope our commissioners prove them wrong by making an intelligent, well-informed decision.

somebodynew 9 years, 5 months ago

To Jeff Co: Don't delay, jump at this chance!!!Everything will be fine - just ask Mossiman. (But be sure to have check up front, not when it is over.)

somebodynew 9 years, 5 months ago

cheseburger- you obviously haven't followed Merrill's rantings on previous posts. And from what I understand, he may not even live here (not sure about that though).

bevy 9 years, 5 months ago

My mom hopes they move it - so she won't have to listen to loud music until 5 a.m. every night! Her dogs agree...

mmiller 9 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully our commissioners will reject this. I wonder if the owner of the Circle S Ranch has been visiting with her Commissioner....Mr. Don Edmonds???? Perhaps presurring him to encourage the passage of this proposal. Money talks, BS walks, right???? The owner of Circle S is too busy drooling over the amount of money she'd make off this event. She could care less about whether or not the county's infrastructure is capable of handling an influx of tens of thousands of people into the county. To Mr. Edmonds and the owner of Circle S:Jefferson County's infrastructure is not able to handle an event of this magnitude. From the tiny gravel road these tens of thousands of people would be traveling, to serious health and sanitation issues, JEFFERSON COUNTY IS NOT THE PLACE FOR THIS EVENT. To the residents in the vicnity: You need to be contacting the media to attend these commission meetings to obtain sound bytes and interviews. Call WIBW, KTKA, KSNT, the LJWORLD, Valley Falls Vindicator, Oskaloosa Independent and tell them your concerns about JF county hosting an event like this. Explain to them the strain this event would place upon the county's infrastructure and why it is not an appropriate venue. If you haven't already done so, call Mr. Edmonds. You should also contact the owner of the Circle S Ranch. Here is her contact info: proactive! Don't sit back and let this happen!

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

Move it to downtown Lawrence and let the money roll in. The hotels would be sold out. Cafe's and bars would be reaping many profits. Sunflower Outdoor and bike would be extremely busy. Mass Street Dillons and The Merc would be swamped. Stores selling sandals and Crocs would enjoy the business. When festival goers need a break, Mass street shopping would provide some variety in their day. Hobbs Park would make an excellent venue.The east Lawrence warehouse district would be another excellent venue. 7th street between Mass and New Hampshire one more stage location.Bring it on....Sales tax revenue would increase substantially.... do it downtown and make some dough.

bombshell 9 years, 5 months ago

party poopers excluded, wakarusa is a good time to be with good friends and good music. it's a much anticipated vacation for most of the people there and it's fun, i've been to every one. i can understand the guy whose horse farm is right next to the ranch, but everyone else should just stop their whining, grab a beer and enjoy the party. that's what it's about.

mmiller 9 years, 5 months ago

Cowboy is right about the traffic on Wellman Rd and how emergency vehicles would have one hell of time getting back to that event. It is not easily accessible. What about the farm animals and other livestock in the vicinity??!! The loud noise, couple with the heavy traffic, will be very stressful on livestock. If this passes, it is going to be a disaster. I hope our commissioners seriously consider the ramifications of this event.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 5 months ago

Believe it or not I actually didn't sign the petition against the Wakarusa Fest. Then again, nobody ever came to my door and asked me to sign. So who knows if I would have........wonder if I could have gotten a Snickers out of signing it or something. My only concerns are the roads, traffic, and lack of firefighters, police, etc. in case of an emergency.

cityman 9 years, 5 months ago

i think the comms. should talk to the people who live in the area and go with what they hear from them.who cares if they pay the property owner or not

webmocker 9 years, 5 months ago

"Why not have the festival at Farmland. It is sitting idle and will have to be cleaned up someday anyway, so a bit more trash won't make any difference."I agree with the perched hawk.(Hmm, did I just see a pig fly past my window? :-)Seriously, that's not a bad idea. Of course there would be noise issues so close to town, but no worse than the noise of weekly KU football games, and the economic benefits might actually be noticed in a part of town that is somewhat overlooked.

Jeteras 9 years, 5 months ago

I wonder how much scrap metal and catalytic converters would be ripped out at the Farmland fest. Hell they want to get rid of everything out there anyhow, let the festival people do it. Man think of all the dragging VW buses full of scrap metal. That would be a sight

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