Continuing the top entertainment stories of the year… with Wakarusa

December 31st, 2010 at 11:07 am

Wakarusa crowds. File Photo.

In this Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo, thousands gather to watch Umphrey’s McGee play during a set at the 2010 Wakarusa festival. The growth of that event, which doubled in size in just one year, is among the top stories of the year.

Last week, we chatted about our collection of the area’s most important stories, as compiled in What’s Up!

We continue that countdown this week with Nos. 1-5.

Among those are a couple stories that altered our live music scene in 2010, and, in all likelihood, the years to come.

We’ll let you read the whole thing in What’s Up! [Note: Some subscriber content], which was published today (Dec. 31) for the 12-county area that surrounds Washington and Benton counties.

But we’ll also give you a taste of the music-related entries here.

Coming in at No. 4 is the growth of Wakarusa, the annual orgy of music that takes places at Mulberry Mountain, located in Franklin County on Arkansas 23. In 2009, the festival’s first year in Arkansas, about 10,000 paid to attend. In 2010, about 20,000 — including someone from nearly every state in the U.S. — traveled to Arkansas for the event. It could be even bigger in 2011, as the festival director tells us that ticket sales are four times swifter than last year at this time.

Our top story of the year is the potential expansion of the Walton Arts Center. It’s a theater venue, yes, but it’s also been host to several live music events in the past and officials at the center hope to expand their operations into several venues, potentially using Barnhill Arena and Bud Walton Arena. That growth, coupled with center’s plans to build a 2,220-seat venue in Bentonville and a 600-seat theater in Fayetteville have the potential to impact our live music scene for years.

What do you think were the biggest entertainment stories of the year? What did we overlook?