Wakarusa Ramps Up Security for Music Festival

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A beefed-up security force is in place for the opening of the annual Wakarusa Music Festival in Franklin County. The detail's main concern is keeping the estimated 25,000 concert-goers safe.

Jonathan Keogh, the head of security at the festival, said to make sure that happens, an additional 300 private security officers are in place at Wakarusa.

"We started locking down the site on Monday and our numbers of security staff have come up from there," Keogh said. "So we're securing the front gates to monitor who's coming in to set up and that sort of thing."

State and local police are also nearby, with headquarters just up a quarter of a mile up the road from the main gate.

"The way I look at it is as long as people aren't causing violence or damage to anybody, we can pretty much deal with everything internally," Keogh said. :Once it crosses that line, and its a rarity that it does, that's when we would - I wouldn't say we arrest them because we don't have that power - but we would escort the disorderly patrons up to the gate and contact the authorities."

"State police is bringing their mobile command post up," Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen said. "They should have several troopers helping us, and we will have several deputies. Also, the Game and Fish and Forest Service and different agencies are helping us."

This year, security said another big concern is severe weather that might move into Franklin County over the next few days.

"Most of the heavy stuff is going to miss us but that doesn't mean we're not staying prepared," Keogh said. :We have protocols for bull horns on stages and announcements and how we clear the venues. It's something we take very seriously."

Over the years, Keogh said Wakarusa has had to evacuate the site a handful of times because of bad weather. However, it's always been as a precautionary measure. If severe weather rolls in this year, Keogh said concert-goers will be told to take shelter in a hard-top vehicle and wait the storms out.

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