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Travis County delays approval of extended hours for Waterloo Music Festival

Thursday, August 9, 2018 by Alyx Wilson

Waterloo Music Festival is scheduled for Sept. 7-10 this year at Carson Creek Ranch. The new festival will have camping and music five minutes north of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Event promoter David Machinist with Jam Fest LLC appeared in the Travis County Commissioners Court Tuesday to provide new updates and information for the upcoming festival with the hope that the permit would be finalized and approved. As part of working toward that approval, Jam Fest reduced the maximum number of attendees allowed at the festival from 10,000 to 7,500.

However, representatives from Jam Fest are requesting an extension of live music hours: Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m. and Sunday until 11:59 p.m. The Waterloo Music Festival website already has acts listed to go on until those times on their lineup.

Commissioner Margaret Gómez, whose Precinct 4 includes the Carson Creek Ranch area, said she had heard opposition from her constituents about outdoor music festivals. She stated that while she personally is not fond of music festivals, she has tried to remain neutral up until this point. However, she said, the request to extend the hours moved her from neutrality to opposition.

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty was concerned that the county may be heading toward not having any outside music anywhere unless a commissioner was willing to let it happen within their precinct.

“This puts the promoter in a real box. I mean, ‘Am I going to have an event, am I not, I’ve got musicians and all sorts of things to figure out,’” said Daugherty. “David, I don’t know how you’re reading this right now – but if I’m in your seat, I’d really be worried.”

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt suggested that the commission move the vote on the item to next week’s meeting, with the hope that Jam Fest would pursue a letter from the neighborhood association about the proposed extension of hours. Eckhardt also asked that neighbors with serious concerns regarding the extended hours come to voice their opinions the following Tuesday so the court can balance the interests of the promoters and the burgeoning festival economy in Southeast Travis County.

This Tuesday, community member John Cobb gave testimony regarding traffic and noise concerns.

“We are opposed to hours after 1 a.m.” Cobb said.

Machinist informed the room that the festival was “jam oriented” with far less bass than what the festival venue has seen in the past. In addition, the music that would be featured during the later hours would be played on a smaller riverfront stage facing the opposite direction of the main stages.

Machinist said that during the extended hours, the sound footprint would be less than half when compared to the earlier main stage acts.

“I believe the sound mitigation we are on now will not travel nearly as far as it has in the past at similar music festivals,” Machinist said. “We are also planning on measuring the sound at the property line with a number of operators to make sure that we are not violating.”

Machinist spoke on behalf of Jam Fest’s continuous work to uphold relationships with its venue neighbors in the past, and he said that the promoter brand also plans to reach out to neighbors after the approval of the time variance by the Commissioners Court.

“David, I am your direct neighbor, and I’ve never heard word from you,” Cobb said.

Photo by Shane Hirschman made available through a Creative Commons license.

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