Early to the Party: Austin Finally Becomes One Giant Festival

Photo by Bryan C. Parker

Photo by Bryan C. Parker

Austin Finally Becomes One Giant Festival

On November 4th, citizens of Austin will vote on Proposition 58. If Proposition 58 passes, Austin will legally be recognized as a festival and no longer as a city in the state of Texas. Private businesses will continue to exist, but will legally be required under the new proposition to host a band, film, art gallery, video game conference, comedian, play, performance art showcase, etc. at a moment’s notice. Austin will also maintain the structure of a government, for example the Mayor (now Executive Festival Coordinator) and City Council (now the Festival Planning Committee) will continue to make laws for the festival to maintain order. Additionally, the Austin Festival (Austin’s proposed name change) will offer city services with slight adjustments. For example, Capital Metro transportation system will still operate, but under the new name of Capmetro Festival Shuttle Services. Similarly, the sanitation department will be a volunteer-run system under Proposition 58 (volunteers do the dirtiest, hardest work just for the sheer reward of being able to live in the Austin Festival—just like a real festival!).

But this impending vote has some residents wondering how Austin ended up in such a state. “Well we had guests stay over for the first weekend of Austin City Limits, and then the second,” Merry Weller explained. “We are currently hosting friends who came in for Austin Film Festival and in November our family will be visiting to attend FunFunFun Fest. We finally thought, ‘Why not turn our house into a local bed and breakfast and make some money hosting people?!’” Mrs. Weller describes her and her husband’s recent decision to turn their Hyde Park home into a bed and breakfast. Mrs. Weller’s new profitable business represents a recent trend of local residents taking advantage of the money the constant barrage of festivals brings to the city of Austin.

East Austin resident Gary Carbajal describes the origins of his homegrown coffee trailer. “Before South by Southwest (SXSW), I told my neighbors to stop by for coffee on their way to the festival. Then a few folks who were biking downtown just stopped in and helped themselves to some coffee right out of my kitchen! I started thinking, ‘Hey, I could make money doing this!’” Mr. Carbajal’s trailer Bean There, Done That can be found at the upcoming Formula 1 races. While Weller and Carbajal fully embrace the opportunity to profit off the money that festivals bring into the city, other Austin residents are slow to change their old-fashioned ways of just merely living and working a “regular job” in the city.

Some residents, like Walter McKee, find it hard to adjust to the near constant festival atmosphere. “I have lived in south Austin for the past twenty-five years,” said McKee, “This week I found out that somehow my house has become part of the Austin City Limits music festival grounds. I had a young lady tell me yesterday that I needed a wristband to leave my own home.” While some out-of-touch elderly residents may not want to accept the changes happening throughout Austin, the City Council hopes the majority of citizens will feel differently.

Some businesses will hardly have to make any changes at all. For example, trailers all over the city (Festival) will continue to operate normally. “It may be a slight adjustment for some,” potential Austin Mayoral/Executive Festival Coordinator candidate Madolyn White explains. “But we hope with this plan to turn Austin into one giant festival, we can stop beating around the bush and allow the city to become what it desperately wants to be: a 24/7 for-profit festival of the arts.”


Karen Early is a comedian and human being living in Austin, TX. She performs and organizes the weekly Megaphone Show on Saturdays at the New Movement Theater. Her column Early to the Party appears sometimes on Pop Press International.


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