Who made the decision to cancel the Austin Food & Wine Festival?

Auditorium Shores was covered with puddles of standing water on Wednesday, as more rained moved in Thursday morning. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Auditorium Shores was covered with puddles of standing water on Wednesday, as more rained moved in Thursday morning. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

If there were any smug jokers defiantly pointing to the sunny skies yesterday around the time the Austin Food & Wine Festival announced the cancellation of this year’s event, today’s rain has probably quieted their squawking.

It was unclear yesterday who made the call to cancel the fest for the first time in its five-year history, but Jason Maurer, the events manager for the City of Austin’s Parks & Recreation Department, said today that the decision was made jointly between city officials and festival producer C3 Presents.

City officials were on hand at the park throughout the week monitoring the situation with C3 reps. Load-in was supposed to take place on Monday, but torrential rains over the weekend delayed that process. With more rain Wednesday morning, the timeline for production kept getting pushed. As the grounds became more soaked, the feasibility of pulling off the festival became less likely.

“You get to a point where it’s too wet to get ready,” Maurer said. And, even if producers had been able to magically snap their fingers and put the festival together by Friday, more wet weather was predicted for Sunday.

“You have to have a broader perspective,” Maurer said.

With standing water, lightning and thunderstorms, public safety was also a concern of organizers and city officials, but Maurer said the decision ultimately couldn’t be put in just one box. Production timelines, public safety, the condition of the park and the festival experience (which would have likely been miserable on Sunday, given the prediction of more rain) all combined to force C3 and the city to jointly make the call to pull the plug.

Festival goers will all receive full refunds, organizers said yesterday. For those who were planning on a weekend of eating and drinking, check out our 2015 Dining Guide for recs on the best places to eat in town. And check out our story from yesterday about discounts and specials some restaurants are offering festival ticket holders.

 

Author: Matthew Odam

Restaurant critic & features writer at Austin American @Statesman and @Austin360. Austin-born 6th generation Texan. Left-handed.

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