Music Begins as Wakarusa Organizers Monitor Storms

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The Wakarusa Music Festival kicked off three hours later than expected due to severe weather in Franklin County.

The music was supposed to begin at noon, but concert goers were told move to tents until about 3 p.m. when the storms calmed down.

More severe weather is expected for that area Thursday night (May 30) so organizers are keeping an eye on it and discussing possible evacuations.

"We have protocols for bull horns on stages and announcements and how we clear the venues," said Jonathan Keogh, the head of security at the festival. "It’s something we take very seriously.”

Security teams are working to make sure emergency evacuation plans can be carried out at a moment’s notice

“We go through the venue,” said Brett Mosiman, Wakarusa Director. “We usually have 30 or 40 minutes’ notice. We clear the venues; get them back to their campsite or in their car. If sirens actually sound, we will tell them to seek lower ground you know down the side of the [Mulberry] mountain.”

An estimated 25,000 people are in Franklin County for the four-day music festival. Many of them camp during their stay there.

“We get them away from the high structures from the stage

s from anything that could blow away and we recommend that everybody take shelter in a hard top vehicle,” said Keogh.

But even with heavy rains and lightening in the forecast, concert goers say that won't stop them.

“I'm super excited,” said Tiffany Bogan. “The rain’s not going to beat us down this year. It's going to be great.”

In fact, Bogan says the concert goers are coming up with a game plan themselves in case the weather just won't let up.

“Everybody's going to change into their swimming gear,” she said. “Put on some swimming gear and just get through it.”

Over the years, Wakarusa has had to evacuate the site a handful of times because of bad weather.

“You're always at the whim of Mother Nature and the elements and they're a very hearty breed,” Mosiman said. “They loaded up two days ago from Florida, and New York and California and they're coming whether it’s sunny or cold or hot or wet and they're going to have a great weekend.”

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