Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Eat Wakarusa.

The Wakarusa Camping and Music Festival is just a few weeks away.  The annual event, which draws up to 25,000 music lovers each year, will be held June 4-7 at Mulberry Mountain on Highway 23 (The Pig Trail) in northwestern Arkansas.  More than 50 musical acts will hit the stage during the festival, which also includes art installations, group activities and the beauty of the Arkansas Ozarks in the early summer.  For what to pack, click here.  For the latest road update, click here.  For information on Chompdown, click here

Most festivals across Arkansas have a food component.  Larger events, especially fairs, tend to offer many of the same dishes, including corn dogs, funnel cakes and anything deep fried.

Wakarusa is different.  Catering to thousands of music lovers over a longer period of time, vendors at the Wakarusa Camping and Music Festival tend to offer healthier alternatives. While a few vendors serve hot dogs and burgers, you're more likely to find wraps, crepes, pizza, noodle bowls, stir fry and the unofficial Waka food -- the grilled cheese sandwich.

For attendees, here's an overview of items offered by festival vendors.  For more photos, head here.
Wakarusa's vendors must all be self-contained.  Most operate with propane
stoves, solar electricity and the like. Wok cooking is easy and quick, and the
dishes served up from them are excellent.

Peanut noodles are very popular.

Big gas-powered griddles create things quick... so you'll find a lot of fry-ups,
pepper steak and such.
Still, you can't beat a Philly made with fresh peppers and onions, sauteed with beef and
served up with fresh tomatoes.  Add in cheese and you hit every food group here.
For concertgoers on the go, or who want to make sure they get all the vitamins
they need, there are smoothie booths.

Almost any vegetable matter can be blended... and you can find all sorts of great
flavors and colors.

Handheld is the name of the game at Wakarusa, which offers every sort of
natural wrapping.  Most are served either wrapped in foil or paper or on a
recycled, recyclable old fashioned paper plate -- like this crepe.

Quesadillas can be found with any number of fillings... such as this vegetable
and cheese number.

Or vegetable without cheese, or with a different cheese...

You'll see everything from broccoli to black beans offered in quesadillas.

And when it's not in a quesadilla, it's in a wrap.

Best of all, every one's made to order.

Wraps can come filled with beans, vegetables, rice and meats, too.
The scent of roasting meat on griddles can be savored from a great distance away.

Wrap too messy?  Quesadilla too... flat? How about a burrito?

Or a crepe... which can be filled with anything, even Nutella and bananas.

Get a little more to your grip with a pita or a flatbread.

Pack your handheld conveyance with spinach and black beans

or curried chicken

And dip a little condiment action, too.

There's a lot of vegan and vegetarian friendly fare at Waka... but there's also
a whole lot of meat.

This London broil will be sliced into steak for sandwiches.

Breakfast lovers can look for bacon and sausage...

And places such as this spot near the Satellite Stage serve breakfast wraps
24 hours a day.
Oh, and you might find a muffin or two.

And then there's pizza.  You'll find it just about everywhere, with just about
any topping you desire.  Pepperoni and pineapple are popular.

So's vegetable pineapple...

And vegetable cheese.

Pieces are large and easy to fold and carry.

There's even cookie pizzas.

French bread pizzas are also popular... a deep-dish experience that's easy to
hold in one hand.
Pizza is actually cooked in huge ovens transported to the Wakarusa site.

Asian foods are also popular.  In addition to noodles, there are vendors that serve
up Chinese food favorites such as General Tso's chicken.

Beef with broccoli and lo mein noodles are other options.

There's even a sampler platter that combines rice, noodles and an egg roll.

Grilled meats can be found wherever there's a grill in the food court.

There are also some true oddities, such as the Jerry Garcia -- a fat eggroll
stuffed with gyro meat.  It's excellent, by the way.

And you can even find cookies.
If that doesn't satisfy your sweet tooth, how about a sno cone?

The unofficial food of Wakarusa, though, is the lowly grilled cheese sandwich.
Portable, warm and cheap, it's perfect for festivalgoers looking to fill their
bellies on not a lot of cash.

Grilled cheese sandwiches come plain with American cheese or augmented with
spinach, tomatoes, even bacon.

They're sold all over the festival grounds.

Of course, having vendors around means you might find other things you'd expect
from a festival... such as barbecue loaded nachos...



kettle corn...

barbecue nachos...


and cheesy guys.

When it gets hot, look for the popsicle vendor. He has all sorts of delicious,
refreshing organic ice bars for $3 each.

There are soft drinks, beer and bottled water for sale at the event.  And then
there's wine from local winery Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, available by the cup

or the bottle... and since you can't have glass at Wakarusa,
the Wiederkehr folks will decant it for you into your own
portable plastic wine bottle.

And, for those of us who need caffeine, there's iced coffee close by.

For your curiosity, here are some of the menu boards from around the Wakarusa
festival site.  Of course, prices may change, but this should give you an idea of
what to expect.

Just remember, stay hydrated, keep cool, wear your sunscreen, and be kind to
each other.  See you there.


  1. Kat, you didn't say where this is held. If Wakarusa is a town or community in Arkansas, it's not on the state highway map. The food looks good.

    1. The actual address is 4117 Mulberry Mountain Loop, Ozark, AR 72949. http://www.wakarusa.com/info/maps-and-directions/

  2. Wow. This looks more like a food festival! I hope it finally stops raining...

  3. This makes me want to go to Wakarusa just to eat!

  4. I just returned from Hangout Fest and talked to a few food vendors headed to Wakarusa. Definitely add Puffs of Doom to your must-eat list. So good!!

  5. Dang! What an amazing assortment. I don't suppose we can go just to the food court area and not the concert? I hope they get that stretch of 23 re-opened before this event.

  6. Stop by Byrd's Mulberry Riverfront Restaurant for anything from Biscuits and Gravy to Steak! Located on Hwy 215 about 5 miles south of the festival Open Friday-Sunday. Large groups call ahead 479-667-5000 http://www.byrdsadventurecenter.com/restaurant.html ‪#‎wakarusa‬ ‪#‎RiverfrontRestaurant‬


Be kind.