Festival Talk

ACL Fest considers a future two-weekend schedule to help preserve festival grounds

ACL Fest considers a future two-weekend schedule to help preserve festival grounds

Editor's note: CultureMap originally published in error that the City Council meeting to approve a two-weekend schedule took place on Friday, August 24. The actual meeting took place on August 16, as reflected below. We apogize for any misunderstanding.

UPDATE: Austin City Council voted unanimously in favor of Austin City Limits Music Festival expanding to a two weekend schedule on August 16. With the approval, event producer C3 Presents will negotiate with city officials to extend next year's festival into two weekends of programming. The proposed dates are October 4-6, 2013 and October 11-13, 2013.

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Originally published on July 26, 2012.

Whether rain or shine, dust or mud, the music festival must go on.

And while festival goers don't usually mind the conditions of the festival grounds, there is no denying the environmental strain made on festival grounds like Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores each year during ACL Fest, Fun Fun Fun Fest and SXSW.

That's why C3 Presents, the producers of the ever-expanding Austin City Limits Music Festival, wants to take additional measures to lessen that burden and help preserve some of these hip music hotspots by splitting up its schedule into two weekends, and giving back more to the city's parks.  

For starters, C3 partner Charlie Jones told the Austin American-Statesman that they are planning to expand ACL Fest into a two-weekend festival in future years, starting as soon as 2013. The proposed dates would be October 4-6 and October 11-13. That could mean twice the amount of music and a week in between to heal the Great Lawn.

Traditionally held over one jam-packed blowout weekend of music, ACL Fest leaves a tremendous impact on Zilker Park's ravaged Great Lawn that has cost the city millions of dollars over the years to renovate and restore. C3 has consistently made a huge monetary commitment to those upkeep efforts, including a $2.5 million maintenance upgrade to the Great Lawn a few years ago and total repair of the park-wide mud debacle that was 2009.

Eight and a half percent of all ACL Fest ticket sales also go back to the Austin Parks Foundation to help improve parks across the city year-round. With additional concert dates and an increased number of tickets sold, that donated amount would also increase tremendously.

After hosting the 2012 Austin Food & Wine Festival at Auditorium Shores, Jones expressed that C3 would specifically like to focus on preserving that popular but degraded event space as well. "It's obvious that the conditions at Auditorium Shores are sub-par," Jones told the Statesman. "We want to help the city get (Auditorium Shores) back to the standard it needs to be to protect the future of our event and of other events."

The renovations proposed by the Austin Parks Director Sara Hensley would include new sod, a new irrigation system, new restrooms and a possible food concession area. "We'd like to improve the area not just for big events, but for general, everyday use by the public," she states.

Whatever festival you're willing to pump out the big bucks for, it's undeniable that major efforts like the ones proposed could and should be made to protect the grounds and improve the festival experience. Just imagine a FFF Fest where you don't have to wear a dust bandana!

Queens of the Stone Age at ACL
Photo courtesy of Austin City Limits Festival
Austin photo: Event_ACL_Stage