Beyond the Beat: 10 things to do at Wakarusa

Music festival lineups speak for themselves.

Without them, it wouldn’t be much of a “music” festival at all, would it?

But aside from the list of artists who perform, every festival has its own unique experience to offer attendees and Wakarusa’s list is rich with possibilities.

As we approach the 10th annual Wakarusa Music Festival, set for May 30 through June 2 near Ozark, Ark., here’s a look at 10 activities to try  when you aren’t glued to a stage.


10Jam at the music bus

The Music Bus ROCKS gives you the chance to jam with fellow attendees daily from noon to 6 p.m., and again late-nights from 2 a.m. until the sun rises. Along with the hands-on Junkyard Orchestra, the bus is equipped with drums, keys, bass/guitars and amps so everyone has the chance to explore their music side. Late nights often include special performances by Waka artists. You can find the bus at Campground Vending near the Satellite Stage.


9Participate in morning yoga

Join instructor Alice Steuerwald for the daily “Body’s Journey,” to start each morning with a sense of peace and freedom in your body while developing awareness of self through breath and proprioception. Yoga sessions take place daily from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Satellite Stage.


8Attend a workshop

From drum circles to didgeridoo lessons to an overview of unified field theory, there are plenty of ways to develop new skills while at Wakarusa. On Friday, Jamie Janover will take you on a journey through humanity’s evolution, exposing the changes necessary to produce a Unified Physics; a unification of not only the four forces of nature, but also evolution and the occurrence of consciousness. Saturday’s didgeridoo workshop allows attendees to discover deep breathing exercises while exploring the mesmerizing primordial sounds of the didgeridoo. And Sunday morning’s drum circle is a fun, positive activity that unifies diverse groups through rhythm.


7Explore the natural beauty

Because of its remote location, Wakarusa can feel more like a nature festival with a soundtrack. Embrace your surroundings. Go fishing. Star gaze. Wander through the forest. Observe the local wildlife. Breathe in the fresh air. And don’t leave without making the trek to the nearby waterfall, a popular cool-down swimming spot for attendees.


6Float the river

Floating is a summertime favorite for locals and the Mulberry River is just steps away from all the action. Bring your own canoe or raft, or arrange a rental and shuttle pickup from nearby Byrd’s Adventure Center, and float away the warm afternoons.


5Observe and create art

There’s a variety of art to view and enjoy over the weekend — from live painters to performance troupes to the giant astral gypsies (pictured above) and the popular living chalkboard. Wakarusa attendees often express their own artistic style throughout the weekend. Design a “rage stick” (totem) to proudly display above the crowd and serve as a marker for your group. Use your camping space as an artistic expression of your own for fellow campers to enjoy. At nighttime, help launch chinese lanterns and watch the night sky come to life. More on the variety of art showcased here.


4Play in the disc golf tourney

New this year is the addition of a disc golf tournament on Saturday morning. This one-day tournament consists of one round and four different divisions. Wakarusa’s Spirit Lake Course features water hazards, tree, and a variety of shots and putts sure to challenge even the most advanced player. Details here.


3Take a ride down the slide or around the wheel

Cool off on the giant water slide or get a birds-eye view of the entire festival on the ferris wheel day and night. The water slide is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, while the ferris wheel is open 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Each will cost you $5 per ride or $20 for an unlimited-ride bracelet.


2Learn to hoop

Join the STL Hoop Club each morning from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. as you and the hoola hoop become one. There are multiple levels of classes available with different focuses on flow, movement, and releasing your inner god or goddess. Hoops are available to share.


1Dress the part

Festivals give us the opportunity to express ourselves in ways we don’t often have the freedom to do. Celebrate your inner weirdo and dress up for the occasion. Strut your stuff at Friday night’s parade and costume contest. Or join a roaming performance troupe by participating in daily dress up themes: Underwater Fun in the Sun on Thursday; The Waka Masquerade on Friday; Purple! on Saturday; and Mother Nature and Father Time say goodbye on Sunday. Remember: the more colors, the better.

Photos courtesy unless otherwise noted.


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Kent Otto

Kent is founder and editor-in-chief. He's always had a love and passion for music of all types, but didn't discover the music festival scene and community until moving to Southern California during his early post-college years. He returned to his roots in the Midwest in 2011 and has since been determined to share the magic and beauty of the music scene with as many as possible. Email