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Did Bruce Springsteen attend the Austin Reggae Festival?

Popular Central Texas Food Bank fundraiser returns for its 25th year this weekend.

Kristin Finan
kfinan@statesman.com
The Austin Reggae Festival at Auditorium Shores on April 16, 2016. Contributed by Erika Rich

Did you know Bruce Springsteen attended the Austin Reggae Festival in 2000?

At least that’s the rumor.

“He was playing a show at the Erwin Center on Monday and we’re pretty certain he showed up at the event, incognito, walked around a little bit,” said Hugh Forrest, Austin Reggae Festival co-organizer and an admitted Springsteen fan. “(Unfortunately) I don’t have a picture I can give you.”

This weekend marks the 25th year of the Austin Reggae Festival at Vic Mathias Shores on Lady Bird Lake, where great music, good vibes and unexpected visitors have been the order of the day since the festival was founded in 1994.

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For much of its existence, the Austin Reggae Festival has made the Central Texas Food Bank its beneficiary — in the last five years alone, money from the festival has provided more than 2.3 million meals. Last year, the festival raised enough to provide more than 376,000 meals for Central Texas.

Forrest — yes, the same man who serves as chief programming officer at South by Southwest — has been involved with the Austin Reggae Festival for more than two decades. He says he enjoys working with a festival that does so much good.

“Reggae Fest requires a lot of work, but not as much work as SXSW does,” Forrest said. “There is a similarity there, that you get a lot of satisfaction out of producing an event that helps people. At SXSW, it’s a different demographic of people that it helps. With the Austin Reggae Festival, if we have a good weekend, if the weather’s good, we’re able to feed so many hungry families around Central Texas. That is a very special thing.”

This year’s lineup includes the Wailers (Sunday), Black Uhuru (Saturday), Collie Buddz (Saturday), and Kabaka Pyramid and the Bebble Rockers (Friday). Food and clothing vendors will also be on site, and, as always, a portion of ticket sales will go to the Central Texas Food Bank. Attendees are encouraged to bring two cans of food or donate cash at the gate, too.

“It brings in a lot of different people,” Forrest said. “It celebrates giving back, it celebrates community, it’s strongly focused on music, which is so much of our calling card in Austin, and it happens against the backdrop of our beautiful Austin skyline. It is a very Austin-centric event and neat to be part of.”

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