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Now Held in Arkansas, Wakarusa is Less Than 30 Days Away

[NOTE TO EDITORS: This article contains a reference to a May 16 deadline regarding a ticket price increase.]

May 12, 2009

Jill M. Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

“Waka! Waka! Just got my tickets! Whoo Hoo!” Comments like these are posted on the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival Facebook site as music fans from near and far show their excitement for the festival that is now less than 30 days away.

Thousands of people from the region and across the nation will converge at Mulberry Mountain near Ozark on June 4-7. Adding to the excitement is the anticipation of this year’s new event venue. Organizers announced in December that the festival would be moved from Lawrence, Kansas, which it called home for the past five years, to Mulberry Mountain in northwest Arkansas.

Mulberry Mountain is an event and lodging facility on about 650 acres surrounded by the Ozark National Forest. It contains seven cabins that can sleep from two to 10 people and a 5,000-square-foot lodge that sleeps up to 19. There is also an events building. The tree-shaded campground has 50 full hook-up sites for tents and recreational vehicles, but can also accommodate a large number of people for tent camping without water or electricity.

About 10,000 people are expected to attend the music festival, according to Dewey Patton with Mulberry Mountain. “There will be people from all 50 states and maybe from around the world that will certainly be bringing a lot of dollars to Arkansas,” he said. In addition to the economic boost for the surrounding area and state, Patton said the event will heighten awareness of the music scene in Arkansas.

Four stages will be filled with musicians day and night. “They’re bringing in quite a substantial line up, some pretty substantial touring acts,” Patton said. “This is one of the top music festivals in the country as far as these types of events go.”

The band schedule is now posted on the Wakarusa Web site, so event-goers can begin to plan the details of their Wakarusa weekend. The Black Crowes will headline Saturday night. The 2009 artist lineup will include: Gov't Mule, STS9, Yonder Mountain String Band, Les Claypool, G Love & Special Sauce, Matisyahu, Gomez, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Galactic, Shpongle, Buckethead, Sly & Robbie, Railroad Earth, Steve Kimock, Crazy Engine featuring Melvin Seals, Perpetual Groove, Porter Batiste & Stoltz, JJ Grey & MOFRO, Jimmy Herring Band, The Egg, 20/20 Soundsystem, Lucero, Split Lip Rayfield, The New Mastersounds, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, EOTO, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Big Smith, and about three times more bands. For the full list and details of what time and which stage they will play, visit

Madison Harper, 18, of Fort Smith already has her ticket. “A guy named G Love is going to be there. I really like him. STS9 is going and I’m really looking forward to those shows. They have two big sets.” A senior at Southside High School, Harper said many of her friends are attending Wakarusa. “This is our big, last hurrah before we go our separate ways,” she explained.

The eight people in her campsite plan to camp three nights. “It’s the big thing to do because it’s so close,” she added. “The music is really popular here too, so the whole school is drawn to that.” Her boyfriend attended Wakarusa the past two years when it was in Kansas.

If you don’t have your tickets yet, you might want to consider buying them before May 16, when the full event tickets will increase to the next price level. Full Event Pass purchasers have access to all shows and late-night events, and have multiple camping options. All vehicles entering the festival must have a camping pass. Camping options are: mainstage, primitive, family, accessible and extended. Location is the main difference between each of these camping options. The RV camping sites are sold out.

Wakarusa also sells VIP packages, weekender packages that don’t include camping, and single day passes without camping. VIP tickets include meals, beverage service, and upfront viewing.

There are no refunds on tickets, and the festival will take place rain or shine. No dogs are allowed at the event.

Wakarusa plans to keep the festival clean and green with its Recycalusa recycling program. It encourages campers to pack reusable camping gear. When campers arrive they will be given two large plastic bags, clear for trash and green for recycling. Color coded recycling barrels will also be places throughout the site.

To stay up to date on ticket pricing and artist additions, and to see festival details, visit the Web site For an inside scoop on artist appearances, “secret” sets and other information, sign up for Wakarusa text messaging. Text WAKA to 744559 to join the list or sign up on the Web site to receive the texts and/or an email newsletter.

Each year Wakarusa also holds pre and post parties. This year's parties will be at George’s Majestic Lounge, one of Arkansas' legendary music venues, on Dickson Street in downtown Fayetteville. Playing on June 3 will be Elephant Revival, Blue Mountain and Telepath. Bands scheduled for the post party on June 7 are Jesse Baylin, Hoots & Hellmouth and Madahoochi. The June 8 post party bands will be Old School Freight Train, Scythian, Dusty Rhodes and the River Band. These parties are included with Full Event and VIP Pass tickets.

Additional activities offered at Wakarusa include morning yoga, disc golf, and fishing at on-site stocked ponds. During the festival there will be a 10-foot Ferris wheel on the property. “It will be nice to look out over the Ozarks from that high vantage point,” Patton said.

There is access from the property to the Ozark Highlands Trail. Mountain Creek Waterfall Trail exists within the Forest Service and the trailhead is located just off of the Mulberry Mountain property. Patton said a 60-foot waterfall and two 20-foot waterfalls can be seen on that trail. Canoeing and kayaking the Mulberry River is popular and boats can be rented at nearby Byrd’s Adventure Center or Turner Bend. Arkansas Wine Country is less than 25 miles away at Altus.

“That’s one of the unique things about the festival moving here,” Patton said. “It becomes more of a destination with the amenities and things there are to do around here.”

He added, “I would hope that a lot of people would like to come out to Mulberry Mountain in another part of the year to make more use of the trails and river.”

Mulberry Mountain will hold its 4th annual Harvest Music Festival on Aug. 12-15. “It will be a little more acoustic based,” Patton explained. For more information on Mulberry Mountain, visit

If You Go:

Mulberry Mountain is located on the Pig Trail Scenic Byway, which is Ark. 23 from the south boundary of the Ozark National Forest to its intersection with Ark. 16 at Brashears. The rugged and forested Boston Mountains region of the Ozark Mountains provides the setting for this route, portions of which run through a tunnel of foliage during spring, summer and fall. The byway crosses the Mulberry River and the 165-mile Ozark Highlands Trail.

Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
“Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism”

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