Survival guide details the do’s and don’ts of fest

Folks can count on additional hassles when attending an event such as the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival.

It’s not as simple as walking into a bar, plunking down five clams and seeing a band. This is a major undertaking – which is why “and Camping” is part of the title – and some thought must be put into preparedness for concertgoers to fully relish the experience.

Here’s a guide to surviving the second annual Wakarusa Fest:

What to bring

“The biggest thing if you’re camping four days is to make sure you stay comfortable,” says Wakarusa co-organizer Brett Mosiman. “Make sure you have sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and bug spray.”

For those who aren’t practitioners of the Boy Scouts motto, Mosiman says there will be a fully stocked general store this year on the premises.

“So if you forget beef jerky or smokes, they should have it,” he says.

According to Dan Hughes, owner of Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop, 802 Mass., festivalgoers are already stockpiling wares in anticipation of the fest.

“We’ve seen bug repellent sales move upwards,” Hughes says. “We’ve seen some tent sales. Beyond that, it’s more incidentals like Frisbees. We’ve also seen a lot of bike action. I think a lot of people are realizing that the campgrounds aren’t that far away to hop on your bike and ride out there.”

For those pragmatic types looking for a laundry list, here are the requisite festival items specified by the event’s Web site:

¢ Tent with fly

¢ Tarp

¢ Sleeping bag

¢ Air mattress

¢ Hat

¢ Sunglasses

¢ Bug spray

¢ Sunscreen

¢ Light fleece pullover (overnight temperature will be in the low 60s)

¢ Blanket (great for ground cover in the concert field)

¢ Hip pouch (stash smokes, shades and dough)

¢ Cooler

¢ Koozie

¢ Camp chairs (a $7 necessity at most stores)

¢ Swimsuit and beach towel

¢ Games (cards, horseshoes, washers, hackie, Frisbee, etc.)

¢ Flashlight and/or lantern

¢ Flying squirrel vaccine

Note: Last item is a writer’s embellishment.

What not to bring

According to Mosiman, the two biggies are: “No dogs, no glass.”

“There were dogs out there last year,” he says. “But security is under strict orders to find them and turn them away this year. People are traveling a long way to bring their pets, and that’s a big no-no.”

Other common items not allowed within the park include: fireworks, ATVs, golf carts, kegs and weapons.

A few of the more eclectic choices that are verboten include: upholstered furniture, portable pools and fires.

While it’s not specifically mentioned, patrons are also strongly discouraged from bringing lightning or pestilence.

How not to get kicked out

Mosiman mentions there are two surefire ways to get booted faster than Tara Reid at a Mensa convention.

“Fighting or trespassing will do it,” he says. “If you’re wandering around without a wristband or ticket, you will be removed this year. Last year our policies were a little backward.”

That policy included having two rings of security – one at the park entrance and one at the concert field.

“We had assumed, ‘Hey if they come in at 2 a.m. from Iowa or Texas, what do we care? They got to go get a ticket in the morning or they can’t see any music.’ Well, the party was so spectacular out in the campgrounds, a lot of people just didn’t care. So basically this year you don’t get into the park without a ticket,” he explains.

Mosiman also recalls stories of pizza delivery employees who would sneak two or three people in at a time. There were even Wakarusa staffers who would loan their staff shirts to gate-crashers.

“None of that will work this year,” he confirms.

A ticket with a hologram and a scanable center strip also should help curb trespassers … and counterfeiters, for that matter.

As for more conceptual advice, Wakarusa co-organizer Nate Prenger says, “Continuing the same behavior that repeatedly breaks the rules will get you kicked out.”

In other words, if someone tells you to quit doing something, then quit doing it … loser.

What to avoid

There are a lot of critters nestled in the grass and trees of the park that one should take precautions to elude.

The chigger is chief among these pests, mainly because few non-natives of Kansas have even heard of the little buggers. And like God and the female orgasm, they need to be accepted through a leap of faith.

“We found last year that most people don’t know what they are, especially the East Coast and Colorado people,” Mosiman says. “And you can’t see them, and you don’t feel them until a day later. Once you know you’re into them, it’s usually too late.”

Mosiman says a swab of rubbing alcohol kills the bugs and soothes the itch. Simply wearing shoes and socks, lying on a blanket and utilizing a spritz of bug spray should prevent any chigger biting.

“I saw a couple guys who were hitchhiking through and they curled up and slept on the side of the road on the interstate. They got up the next morning, and it looked like they had the measles,” says Bruce Wolhuter, a naturalist working for Clinton Lake State Park through the Americorp program.

Wolhuter hooked up with Wakarusa as host of an e-mail section on the event’s Web site called Ask Nature Bruce. He will be manning a Q&A booth at the festival.

Although the concert field, dining tents and food areas have been sprayed for mosquitoes and various pests, those exploring the woods could run into other aggressors.

“For some reason, people are more afraid of ticks than snakes,” Nature Bruce says. “If you do get a tick on you, it’s not the end of the world. Most ticks have to be attached at least two days before they can transmit a disease.”

How not to die

Since the chance of being ripped to shreds by a roving rottweiler has been minimized this year, there is only one non-human threat in the park: snakes.

“We had an incident last year with two kids who found a copperhead crossing the road and decided they’d play around with it to try and get it to strike,” Nature Bruce recalls. “Well, they did, and we had a snakebite.”

Although no deaths occurred – and it probably made for a great story for the dude’s fraternity friends back at K-State – the snake issue is legitimate in Kansas if dealing with the tag-team of copperheads and timber rattlesnakes.

“When it gets above 80 degrees, snakes lay low until nighttime,” he says. “So people need to have flashlights and extra batteries because that’s the time they’re most likely to run into snakes that are dangerous.

“We ask that nobody kill snakes. The timber rattlesnake is actually a species in need of conservation. Contact a ranger if you see a snake, and we’ll come and get it.”

Hydration is also a concern. Thus organizers have free water locations in all the concert areas and the campgrounds, and ice is for sale.

With all the free aqua flowing and the comparatively cool temperatures – and a huge freakin’ freshwater lake next door – it’s going to take some exceptionally poor planning to die of thirst.

But the glory days of youth are not really the time to be obsessing about one’s mortality. Enjoy the camping. Enjoy the music. Enjoy Lawrence.