Float Fest 2017. Float Fest photo
One-of-a kind festival returns to San Marcos River this weekend
Float Fest is this weekend and those planning to attend are prepping for two days packed full of fun, water and musical entertainment.
The headliners at this year big event include: Tame Impala, Bassnectar, Snoop Dogg, Modest Mouse, Run The Jewels, Cold War Kids and Lil Wayne. The festival will be showcasing several local bands including Austin’s Bronze Whale, The Wild Now and A Giant Dog, along with Houston favorites Vodi and trillest Bun B.
Float Fest is truly unique, as far as festivals go, and the San Marcos River is as big an attraction as any of the musical talent. While visitors and locals alike are encouraged and welcome to enjoy the city’s natural resource, many efforts have grown over the years to keep the river clean and safe for all who attend.
The Eyes of the San Marcos River (TESMR) will be helping again for the 5th year; the organization has been a key player in efforts to keep the San Marcos River clean before, after and during the festival. TESMR co-founder Zach Halfin shares the importance of river volunteers over the past few years. As volunteer guardians of the river, they work to keep the beauty of the river intact.
“We’ve come out to help every year, since the first year of this festival we’ve enjoyed doing our part, [being involved] it’s what we do.”
Halfin was contacted by festival founder Marcus Federman earlier this year to ramp up efforts to “Keep the River Clean,” hiring 40 “river wranglers.” The group will undertake different cleanup duties while stationed at certain distances and key areas along the river.
“We’ve been doing this for years now, we know where some of the biggest risks for river trash are. Most of the trash we see going into the river is accidental,” he said. “People get caught in trees, flip out of their tubes — there are some areas where the river runs faster, and rapids where floaters can lose things. We’ve seen it so many times, floaters lose their trash in many situations.”
In fact, last year the group pulled more than 10,000 cans from the float route following the two-day event, that saw more than 20,000 festival goers. But not all the trash can be attributed to the event. Between March and September, the route sees 20,000 to 30,000 floating the river.
TESMR river wranglers and volunteers will be recognizable by their T-shirts. They will interact with attendees throughout the day, promoting safe and responsible floating practices along with keeping the river clean.
“We’re out there in the river, and we help humanize the environment,” Halfin said. “Floaters are more aware of the impact they have on the environment when volunteers are there interacting with it responsibly.”
Staff will also help alleviate some of the issues that come up, encourage floaters that the safest place is in their tubes, and to be aware that private property lines the banks of the float.
Haflin said there will also be group members assisting people in and out of the river.
“We’ll have staff at the float exit point, helping as well,” he said. “to collect anything that might make its way past the cleanup efforts upstream.”
This is one of the largest scale coordinated river clean ups at this particular section of the San Marcos River. Partners involved – including Float Fest, Don’s Fish Camp, Texas State Tubes, and The Eyes of the San Marcos River – will all work together to leave as small a footprint as possible, while encouraging visitors to venture to San Marcos from near and far.
Float Fest will have up to 20,000 attendees each day, with 90 percent of the tickets sold at press time. Many attendees will camp on site and are urged to access the site festival from Scull Road off Hwy. 621 rather than via Hwy. 80 and Martindale.