By Katherine Dodds
May 30-June 2
From its humble beginnings, Wakarusa has grown into one of the country’s largest summer music festivals, with bands ranging from bumping dubstep to down-to-earth bluegrass. Every year, Colorado holds down a strong front on the artist lineup and provides a huge crowd of music freaks, who travel across the plains to get there.
Some of the biggest headliners this year from The Centennial State include Yonder Mountain String Band, Gramatik, GRiZ, The Motet, Mountain Standard Time, EOTO, Papagoya, The Magic Beans, and Technicolor Tone Factory. Wakarusa’s headliners this year include Widespread Panic, STS9, Dispatch, and The Black Crowes.
Located in a remote corner of the Ozark Mountains, Wakarusa has always treated its festival grounds with care, and this year their Recycalusa program is back. Attendees are encouraged to sign up for the clean concert pledge at cleanconcert.org, which has a simple message: “Leaving no trace starts with you.”
Beyond the music, Wakarusa provides public art walls, an enormous water slide, fishing, canoeing, a shopping market, hiking, a waterfall, disc golf, morning yoga sessions, “open to anyone” drum circles, and of course a lit-up, sparkling ferris wheel.
Despite the festival’s incredible growth over the years, there’s still something very homegrown about the vibe at Wakarusa. For example, on Saturday morning attendees are encouraged to meet at a specific location for a potluck style breakfast where everyone brings something and walks away with a huge homemade breakfast provided by hundreds.
You’re going there to see: Yonder Mountain String Band, Widespread Panic, Dispatch, Of Monsters and Men
You’re going to come home talking about: The Werks, Papagoya, The Magic Beans, Boombox, Lyrics Born, The Motet
(As calculated by maps.google.com from Denver, Colo. to Ozark, Ark.)
Total Est. Time: 14 hours, 28 minutes
Total Est. Distance: 920 miles
You Need To Know: Wakarusa and Boulder-based Conscious Alliance will once again partner at this year’s festival for a food drive to benefit the local community surrounding Mulberry Mountain. All patrons that donate 20 nonperishable food items will receive a free limited-edition Waka poster.
Camping: Both on-site and off-site camping is available, but main venue early arrival camping is exceptionally better.