Editor’s note: This article was originally published January 14, 2014
Fun Fun Fun Fest will return to Auditorium Shores on Nov. 7-9, 2014.
A shadow of uncertainty has clouded the festival’s future since a massive 14-month renovation for the popular city center park was announced back in May of last year. The project which started in December has displaced more than a dozen events. The city worked with event organizers to relocate most of the other events, shifting some, including the wildly popular SXSW free showcases to adjacent Butler park, and others like the Austin Symphony’s Fourth of July Fireworks offsite, most likely to the Circuit of the Americas.
Through the ambiguity, Transmission Events, the company behind the Fun Fun Fun Fest was determined to remain at Auditorium Shores.
"We didn’t feel like there was an option b or c," Transmission Events general manager Bobby Garza said on Sunday. "Fun Fun Fun is an urban festival that’s located in the city center. That’s part of our brand and something that we felt was really, really important."
The company took their case to the mayor and city council working to sell the city on the value of the Fun Fun Fun Fest brand in promoting Austin.
While Mayor Lee Leffingwell doesn’t accept the title of "Champion of Fun" (yes, we asked) and he did not don a Batman suit specifically for the above video — he wore it for the CASA Superhero Run in 2012 — he said on Monday that Fun Fun Fun is a big part of Austin’s music economy and he has "always been in favor of finding ways to help them hold their event."
City council and the mayor’s office worked with Austin parks and recreation to shift the timetable on the multi-phase renovation project at Auditorium Shores so that the festival will be able to occupy the center part of the park in November. More details on that here (paywall)
Beyond the broad range of music the festival showcases, hip-hop to hard rock and everything in between, the festival is known for its quirky extras. Tacos are fired into the crowd from a retrofit t-shirt cannon between sets and side attractions include a pop-up skate park and Anarchy Championship Wrestling. In 2012 Val Kilmer and Rooney Mara crashed a Black Lips set to film a Terrence Malick sequence. In 2013 a roving Hostess Twinkie roamed the crowd.
Tranmission Events also employs a variety of imaginative marketing ploys leading up to the festival including city-wide scavenger hunts and an annual Aqua Olympics competition with events like paddleboard jousting, a belching contest and a North vs. South Austin tug-o-war across Ladybird Lake. The latter event is a hat tip to Aqua Fest, a long-running Austin summer tradition that lives on in the hearts of many older Austinites.
In many ways, Fun Fun Fun Fest presents a new school angle on Austin Weird.
"Our brand reflects Austin better than just about any other festival around," says Garza.
"Not just because we book stuff that’s reflective of Austin’s music scene but also because the vibe of our festival is different than just about any other music festival you go to. We show Austin to the world in a lot of respects with a pretty authentic voice."
Earlybird tickets for Fun Fun Fun Fest will go on sale on February 12.
A .pdf of the City of Austin’s updated Auditorium Shores Improvements plan is available here. The center section of Auditorium Shores where Fun Fun Fun Fest will be held is scheduled to open to the public in April. The grounds for Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013 will extend South of Riverside Drive into Butler Park.