For the past eleven years, thousands of music lovers have flocked to the Ozarks in Arkansas to explore ancestral land, experience life-changing music, and forge life-lasting friendships. Wakarusa is the birthplace and home grounds of young, free spirited individuals, and on June 4th, we are going home once again. Used to describe the “ass-deep” depth of a river, the Indian word ‘Wakarusa’ has evolved to contain a much deeper meaning to those who make the journey every year – Wakarusa has grown to mean family. The meaningful bonds that are created through the experience of Wakarusa are endless and boundless – I’ve met friends, lovers, and family on Mulberry, and we come back year after year to re-ignite that same magic and meet new friends to join in our adventurous lives.
The line-up initially grabs your attention, followed by the highly-raved about festival environment that seals the deal; Once you’ve made it to your first Wakarusa, you’re apart of the Waka Family for life. As we celebrate the 12th year anniversary of the gathering known as Wakarusa, I wanted to reflect on some of the finest moments I’ve had passed on to me by friends and family through the years.
Everyone has their own definition of what Waka means to them – Tell us yours.
“Waka reminds me of the way I feel when I’m first coming up the mountain. All of a sudden it’s like the 17 hours we’d driven hadn’t even happened. I feel these awesome butterflies, like I’m face to face with a crush. It’s indescribable.” – Lacey Pendergast
“Wakarusa is freedom. The ultimate escape from reality, yet an opportunity to be real. To be no one but ourselves; dancing freely, laughing loud, and playing with our friends. Life long connections are made through the magic of music and the power of love. Whether it be love for our neighbors, being swept off your feet by a beautiful stranger, or the rekindled love of old friends; it exists there on Mulberry Mountain. It is that kind of magic that keeps us forever young. It is in the joyous spirit of festival goers, and potential of being part of an ever growing collective of beautiful minded individuals that keeps me coming back each year.” – Tay Holla
“Waka was one of the very first festivals I remember my friends driving out to, and I’d still never even been to my first concert. When I finally had the chance to take the trip, my friends introduced me to this whole new group that I’d never met, their Waka Fam… 2015 will be my sixth year, and now I have this entire group of friends from across the country that I’ll get to spend the weekend with. The total amount of time we’ve all spent hanging out has literally been once a year, every Waka since we met… but I think they know more about me than anyone else back home. Shout out to the Pile!” – Russ Kalahan
“My favorite moment happened during my first night of volunteering (which was an enriching experience all on its own) when I was guarding the artist entrance. For hours, people were coming by and bringing me food or just hanging out with me and one woman gave me her megaphone to yell profanities at people lmao! I attracted one guy who sat with me for about 3 hours just so he could use my megaphone and make people laugh! It was awesome! Definitely started my weekend off right.” – Sandra Zmuda
“One of my favorite things about Waka besides the music, was how friendly everyone was. I felt welcome everywhere I went. The overall vibe of the festival was one of the best I’ve ever experienced. That and Mulberry Mountain is so beautiful – I have never seen a sunrise as beautiful as the one I experienced on that mountain.” – Marcie Guidarelli
“Tromping around with my friends from all across the country, listening to amazingly talented acts at all hours of the night, all with a big, cheesy, grin on my face without a care in the world!” – Megan Early