With storms causing Austin’s most popular spring fling to shut down twice on Friday and flooding Saturday night forcing the festival to cancel Sunday’s programming, it was a tough weekend for the event which also stands as the biggest annual fundraiser for Capital Area Food Bank of Central Texas. "We’re very disappointed by the fact that we couldn’t have the festival yesterday but we’re rolling with it, moving forward," Jackie Rogers from CAFB said on Monday.
Last year, the festival raised over $170,000 for CAFB providing over 400,000 meals. "We are definitely are going to experience a decrease in donations (this year)," Rogers said.
The festival did manage to get in almost a full day of programming on Saturday, traditionally the festival’s biggest day. Auditorium Shores was packed, but even then, the festival was only able to squeeze in a few songs from headliner, Argentinian artist Alika. "The entire weekend the event organizers had staff watching the radar pretty closely and they saw that huge storm coming through," Rogers said. "They determined that by 9 p.m. we would have to evacuate everyone because it looked like everything was going to hit around 9:30."
Rogers credits festival staff with doing a "wonderful job" getting everyone out in an efficient and orderly fashion. Rogers was among the last to leave. "Literally after we packed up everything at the food bank tent I got into the garage of the Long Center and it just started pouring," she said.
On Sunday, fest organizers were initially hopeful they’d be able to open a few hours late, but after a full assessment the city determined it would not be possible and the festival released a statement announcing the cancellation. People were disappointed, but understanding. "We explained that we didn’t want to do any long term damage to the park especially as it was just revamped," Rogers said.
It’s still up in the air if the food bank will be able to do any sort of supplemental fundraiser. They plan to concentrate fundraising efforts on their next two big events are Keep Austin Weird Festival and the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, both of which happen in the summer. "Austin Reggae Fest falls at perfect time, right before our really high need time during the summer when kids are out of school and they don’t have access to free lunch or breakfast," Rogers said.
Capital Area Food Bank of Central Texas accepts tax deductible donations on their web site year round and every dollar donated provides three meals to hungry Texans. If everyone who was planning to attend Austin Reggae Fest on Friday or Sunday donated the $5 the festival would have earned off their ticket it would provide 15 meals. It would also elevate the spirit of "One Love" in Austin. Just sayin’.