Photographs by Kevin Kinder
Crowds quickly fill the Mulberry Mountain event grounds, which is home to Wakarusa, on Thursday. It is the opening night of the annual music festival to run through Sunday.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
SMYRNA Thousands of music fans from all across the country have arrived in Franklin County for the first night of the annual Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, and more are on the way.
The annual music and camping event takes place on Mulberry Mountain, located about 15 miles north of Ozark on Arkansas 23. Some 25,000 thousand people will converge on the site, with about 20,000 of them coming as paid guests and the remainder serving as security staff, vendors or other support personnel.
As of Thursday afternoon, perhaps two thirds of those folks had arrived on the festival grounds with a slow but steady stream of cars trickling into the venue.
Early arrivals had the opportunity to watch the Little Rock-based band War Chief perform in the opening slot of the festival. Other performances taking place today include electronic act Pretty Lights, indie rock ’n' rollers Heartless Bastards and bluegrass jam stalwarts Railroad Earth.
Festival spokesperson Emily Ginsberg said the festival attendance is similar to last year, although unseasonably cool temperatures may draw additional walk-up traffic, she said. Already, Ginsberg says, two of the festival’s many campsites are sold out, although space remained in each as attendees continued to arrive throughout the day.
The appeal of spending four days outdoors is what brought music fans Myles Mitchell and Lauren Albert, both of Wichita, Kan., to the site. When asked to explain the appeal of festivals, Mitchell gestured toward the sea of brightly colored tents behind him.
“It’s the music, meeting new people, everything,” he says.
Wakarusa continues through Sunday night, although campers are allowed to stay on the festival grounds through noon Monday.
NWA Media reporter Kevin Kinder will be following the festival all weekend and plans to provide daily updates. Check back with NWA Online and Arkansas Online for more Wakarusa news.