On a beautiful day, with temperatures in the upper 60s, clear blue skies, and a lineup that featured the first Austin performance from Judas Priest in 20 years, huge crowds turned out for Day one of Fun Fun Fun Fest 2014. With them came problems the festival has never experienced before. Most notably, the unprecedented turn out led to long lines that stretched from the festival entrance near the traffic circles on Riverside Drive down South First Street onto the pedestrian bridge across Ladybird Lake. Around 2:30 p.m. fest-goers at the front of the will call line reported waiting for over an hour to gain entry.
By 5 p.m. the situation was worse with the line stretching all the way across the bridge and down past City Hall downtown. An upbeat crowd who earlier in the day joked about the situation and formed a fake twitter account @fffwillcall began to turn hostile and there was significant social media grumbling.This embed is invalid' />
Festival organizers tried to respond as quickly as possible. According to Fest representatives they increased the manpower at the front gate and by 5:20 p.m. they were walking the line handing out water and pulling out Fest goers who had bought Friday only tickets to try to expedite entry for fans who paid specifically to get in for that day’s entertainment.
By 6:30, long lines persisted and fest-goers nearing the front reported close to three hours of waiting. The lack of food and bathrooms had become a problem. Police near the front gate delivered the disappointing news to a few young women who approached them hopefully looking for porta-potties. The police recommended they ask to use the facilities in the adjacent Long Center.
Lynda Stewart of Austin said she was “using her meditation practice” to try to manage the frustration as her wait stretched to three hours. The most difficult part, she said, was missing music she was excited about and knowing she probably wouldn’t get the refund she said she planned to ask for.
“We felt like we were ahead of the game getting here at 3,” said Dan Bickelhaupt who came from Waco to attend the fest.
Paul Quinzi of Austin who is attending his sixth Fun Fun Fun Fest agreed. For him the worst part was “missing John Waters and Amon Amarth … some of the things we came for with what we thought would be ample time.” Quinzi did commend the crowd for retaining a very “Austin attitude” and staying cool through the whole ordeal.
FFF representatives were unable to take press requests Friday night. “Right now the number one concern is getting everyone with tickets into the park. The moment they have that handled we can focus on questions,” a representative for the fest said.]]