Heads up Austin, festival season isn't over yet and coming up on the calendar is the first annual Texas Hemp Harvest Festival, which was approved today for its mass gathering permit by the Travis County Commissioners Court.
The hemp-celebrating festival will be held at Carson Creek Ranch on Oct. 23. The festival is organized by CBD company Sweet Sensi CEO and founder Greg Autry with the mission of creating "a place for all Texans to come together," according to its website.
A family-friendly festival put on by hemp processors, manufacturers and retailers, Texas Hemp Harvest Fest said it will have live music, food trucks, alcoholic drinks, vendors, games and fun for everyone involved.
Autry, who has been growing hemp for 25 years, has been running Sweet Sensi for five years where all the products are made in the Austin warehouse "from seed to sale." Sweet Sensi also packages every product in compostable, reusable and recyclable packaging.
The festival will be held to the same COVID safety guidelines as Austin City Limits Festival: attendees must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test acquired within the last 72 hours. Attendees will also be subject to a temperature check.
According to the Travis County fire marshal, this is the first mass gathering permit that has been approved since the beginning of the pandemic. Austin's COVID situation is improving—Mayor Steve Adler said "I think we're going to be OK," in response to concerns for ACL—the seven-day moving average in Travis County has moved down to 27 COVID cases per day and went back down to stage 4 guidelines in late September.
Since the permit is conditional, Travis County officials will be on-site to make sure the festival heeds guidelines during setup. The permit was recommended for approval by the Travis County traffic management team, sheriff's office and Austin Public Health.
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The show will go on! Fear not about Austin City Limits' cancelation—the City of Austin issued its special events permit yesterday, meaning the festival is certain to return to Zilker through Oct. 10 this year.
The real thing you should be afraid of is the weather. Friday and Saturday of weekend one calls for 77% and 85% chance of rain respectively, which may be inconvenient, but will it put your wristbands in jeopardy?
Most likely not. You're going to want to bring a raincoat and rubber boots but ACL Festival happens rain or shine. Although, organizers decided to cancel the final day of the 2013 fest due to heavy rain, a flash flood warning and pools of water in the park.
That was when ACL was still a one-weekend festival—attendees were refunded a third of ticket prices and that was the first and last time the festival had been canceled, other than COVID. However, rain has soaked ACL fans numerous times.
As far as prepping for the downpour, know that umbrellas, tents and canopies are prohibited. Grab a poncho, clear if you still want to show off your outfit; waterproof shoes or at least some that you don't mind getting dirty, a waterproof cover for your vaccine card, and anything else you might want to stay dry.
Rain is set to start Thursday morning, with a 51% chance, and continue through Saturday evening before dropping down to just a 24% chance on Sunday.
Suffice to say, ACL is most likely going to continue, you just might want to bring a towel.
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Note: This guide was written before weekend one of ACL.
The time has finally come, Austin City Limits fans. Try to contain your excitement—there is still lots of prep work to be done.
Festival crews began setting up in the park last week, giving hope and excitement to ticket holders. With just a few days left until the festival's post-COVID debut, use those jitters to plan out the best possible festival season.
Whether it's your first time or you're an ACL veteran, here are a few tips to keep in mind while you prepare for the music.
Don't miss a beat:
What to bring
First things first, put on that wristband before leaving the house so there's no chance of losing it. Also, just as important as your wristband to get in, all attendees must show a negative COVID-19 test obtained within 72 hours of entering the festival. Fully vaccinated attendees may show proof of vaccination instead of a negative test.
Now to the fun stuff.
Pack light. I repeat, PACK LIGHT because you're going to be doing a lot of walking and moving around. That said, there are a few light creature comforts that will make the sizzling sun bearable, starting with a seat: a foldable chair, picnic blanket, whatever, but you'll want to have a place to camp out while waiting in-between sets or enjoying a bite to eat.
If you bring nothing else, make sure you bring a reusable water bottle. Hydration is crucial and water refills are free at ACL, with stations to fill you up all over the park, so save your money on plastic bottles by bringing one.
Sunscreen is a must, especially if you're planning on making it through a full weekend. Lather up but remember that it's not in an aerosol container and weighs less than 3.4 ounces. It's always good to have a bandana on hand, you never know when you might need one, but you can always grab a freebie from festival vendors.
Expect your battery life to be drained from posting on social media and trying to find friends in the crowd. Do not forget a cell phone charger. This year ACL will have antennas through MatSing, which means the typical WiFi challenge will be partially alleviated. You can pack it all in a one-pocket fanny pack, which doesn't have to be clear if it's smaller than 4.5" x 5.5" or any clear bag smaller than 12" x 12" x 6."
What NOT to bring
The ACL gods have spoken and they said no coolers, glass containers or hammocks are allowed. You can bring in a point and shoot camera but ACL prohibits anything with a detachable lens—in fact, the festival prohibits all professional photo and video equipment.If it's illegal, it is probably prohibited. ACL is not allowing any e-cigarettes or vape devices, outside drinks, tents, spiked jewelry, fireworks, bicycles, pets, umbrellas and selfie sticks are all prohibited. Read the full list of illegal items here.
How to get there
Trying to park at Zilker or anywhere close to the park will leave you disappointed—unless you purchase a third-party parking pass, such as at Chuy's on Barton Springs for $100-weekend parking—so it's probably best to nail down another mode of transport because streets nearby will be blocked off.
More likely than not, you'll still have to do some walking if you take an Uber, which partnered with ACL as the official rideshare app. Drivers have designated pick-up and drop-off zones that are often a trek away from the action. Plus, with high demand comes high prices, so you'll need to factor it into your ACL budget. When you're ready to head home, you won't be able to call an Uber until you pass the river, South Lamar Boulevard or the Frontage Road.
Depending on where you're coming from, it may be best to park downtown and shuttle over to Zilker Park. ACL has historically held free, quick and easy shuttles that pick up attendees, bus them all the way to the Barton Springs West entrance and drops them off at the end of the day. You can catch the shuttle at Republic Square Park downtown starting at noon on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. CapMetro also has bus routes around the city that run to Zilker Park, like MetroRapid Route 803.
Biking and walking 🚲
You won't be able to take your bike inside the festival but bike parking is available on Stratford Drive after crossing the Mopac Pedestrian Bridge and on Toomey Road at Sterzing Street and on Azie Morton Road.
How to survive the heat
(Roger Ho for ACL)
You're going to sweat, so make peace with that. Luckily, this year's forecast is calling for relatively mild temperatures. Now that that's out of the way, you can stay cool by dressing light, staying hydrated and giving yourself time to rest in the shade, which is where all the "must-brings" come in handy. Keep attire light and breathable, a hat or a bandana to keep the hair out of your eyes and a pair of sunglasses on hand. (Pssst… Don't miss our ACL style guide!) Make sure to take breaks and explore the air-conditioned areas of the park—the merch store and beer hall offer respite from the sweaty exterior.
What to eat
Like every year, ACL is bringing in only local restaurants, so you know you'll be eating well. Prepare yourself for a mark-up while you're there—there are plenty of restaurants around the Zilker area and on Barton Springs Road that you can sneak out to if you don't want to pay festival prices.
If you are going to eat at ACL, this is a great time to try something new because you can visit Torchy's any ol' time. Why not try Taco Bronco or Tamale Addiction if you're in the mood for Mexican food? It wouldn't be Texas if The Original Black's Barbecue or Micklethwait Barbecue weren't on the list, it wouldn't be trendy if you couldn't get a bodega-inspired snack from Wicky's Walkup, and it wouldn't be greasy festival food if you couldn't get a mac and cheese stuffed grilled cheese from Burro.
For your sweet tooth, Skull & Cakebones serves spooky sweets just in time for fall, Lick Honest Ice Creams creates creamy masterpieces with local and organic ingredients or if you're trying to stay mobile, pick up a handheld pie from Tiny Pies.
How to maximize your time
Don't go into the festival blindsided, lest you miss shows that are important to you. The first step in enjoying the festival to its fullest is by familiarizing yourself with the artists—a big part of ACL is discovering new favorites and up-and-coming musicians. This year, almost 20 local artists are performing and the worst feeling is discovering an artist that you could have seen at ACL.
Next, map out which artists you want to see with ACL's daily schedules. Though ACL has yet to unveil its new version of the app, previous versions allow you to schedule reminders for shows you wanted to see.
Don't forget to download the app prior to the festival—ACL can alert guests of set changes, weather and festival news in real-time.
Who to see
Miley Cyrus brought Billy Idol to the stage at this year's Lollapalooza. (Charles Reagan for Lollaplooza)
Miley Cyrus brought out special guest Billy Idol during her Lollapalooza set to perform their duet "Night Crawling," so ACL guests might get a two-for-one. Tyler, The Creator, took the Lollapalooza set with a theatrical performance that relives his past eras. The queen of Hot Girl Summer, Megan Thee Stallion, successfully got the entire crowd on their feet. It's important to keep in mind that some of these artists might be nearing retirement, like George Strait, so seize the opportunity to catch rare acts live.
There are some local treasures you don't want to miss—Black Pumas, of course, a band that needs no introduction and has its own holiday in Austin; Dayglow, an indie-pop project put on by frontman Sloan Struble; Nané, a thoroughly-Austin band formed from UT students Ian Green and Daniel Sahad, Dayglow drummer Brady Knippa and Black Pumas keyboardist JaRon Marshall; and Sir Woman, a solo project by Wild Child singer Kelsey Wilson.
Ultimately, who you decide to see is up to you but know that you won't regret branching out. You may not love every new band you see but you're bound to find at least one new jam. From the biggest stages, Honda and Lady Bird, to the smallest BMI and VRBO stages, there is a show to enjoy on all of them.
The festival will be here before we know it!
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