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And we're live! ACL gates open after weather delay and schedule changes on fest's first day

Eight people wait in line at 11:10 a.m. to get into ACL Fest on Friday. The opening was delayed to 3 p.m. due to rain.

UPDATE: And the 2021 Austin City Limits Music Festival has officially started! Gates opened right at 3 p.m., as eager fans started lining up far down Barton Springs Road. The familiar strains of the "Star Wars" theme played, even if it came three hours later than originally planned at the in-person return of ACL Fest, back after a digital pandemic-era edition in 2021.

Outside, ACL staffers encouraged queued fest-goers to have their proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results at the ready. Inside Zilker Park, patches of mud remain from overnight rains, and the afternoon sun turned the fest grounds in a steamy, sweaty bubble.

Reggae artist Skip Marley kicked off the music Friday, along with Carolesdaughter, Emotional Oranges and the Backseat Lovers.

The festival also appears to have announced Friday's surprise appearance: electronic artist Zhu. The ACL Twitter account teased a stop at the Tito's Tent for the surprise performer's 6 p.m. set. 

https://twitter.com/aclfestival/status/1444037023891959814

EARLIER: Austin City Limits Music Festival has pushed back the opening gate time for the first day of this year's event to 3 p.m. 

Gates for the event were supposed to open at noon, but according to a posts on the festival's social media accounts and the official ACL Fest app, "due to inclement weather overnight and impacts to Zilker Park," the start time will be delayed.  

Rain hasn't usually stopped ACL Fest:What to know and how to prepare for a wet forecast

How will the delay affect the ACL Fest schedule?

Around 11:15 a.m., festival organizers released an updated schedule for Friday's programming. Most artists who were scheduled to perform before 3 p.m. were dropped from the schedule.

An exception was on the Bonus Tracks stage, where programming was pushed back an hour and a half. Also, artist Bexley moved to 7 p.m. on the BMI stage.

Performances no longer on the schedule for Weekend 1, Day 1 include:

  • Asleep at the Wheel
  • Nothing, Nowhere
  • Unusual Demont
  • Claud
  • Primo, the Alien
  • Darkbird
  • Nané
  • Q

The lineup:Here's who we think you need to see on the first day of ACL Fest

The weather forecast for ACL Fest is looking better

Although the morning brought a delayed ACL Fest opening and gloomy skies, the National Weather Service said the rest of the day should be just right for festival-going.

“Generally speaking, we don’t think it’s going to rain for the rest of today, but we wouldn’t rule it out completely,” said Bob Fogarty, a National Weather Service meteorologist, at around 11:20 a.m.

Fest-goers will find muddy grounds at Zilker Park as Austin City Limits Music Festival is set to begin on Friday.

A 20% chance of rain is expected to last through Friday night. Fogarty said an isolated rain shower or thunderstorm will be possible, but will only bring up to a half-inch of rainfall to the Austin area. 

“It’s possible that if one of those storms goes over Zilker Park it’s going to drop an inch or two (of rain),” he said.

No severe weather, like gusty winds or hail, are expected with the rain, but Fogarty suggested that festival attendees watch out for lightning.

ACL FAQ:Everything you need to know about ACL Fest, including COVID rules

Temperatures during the day will be in the mid-80s and fall to the 70s at night. 

Don’t put your rain gear away just yet, though. Rain chances will increase overnight to 40% by Saturday morning and 70% Saturday afternoon.

Up to an inch of rain could fall on the Austin area Saturday with some pockets seeing 2 to 3 inches, Fogarty said. 

Could ACL Fest weekend damage Zilker Park? 

"Preparations are made in advance for the challenges presented by inclement weather," Sara Henry, public information and marketing program manager for the Austin Center for Special Events said on Friday. 

Henry said the parks maintenance staff considers "multiple factors for the long-term health of the turf during special events." They are taking measures to protect the grounds including restricting traffic from vehicles and golf carts; mulching to absorb water; and ground water pumping to clear standing water. They will also add additional grounds decking and close areas of the park as needed. 

According to ACL Fest's contract with the city, festival organizers are responsible for the cost of repairing any damage to the park grounds. If damage to the park leads to closures that go beyond the original days agreed upon in the contract, festival organizers will be charged a fee for each day until the park can reopen. 

Are there still fans at the ACL Fest gates early?

Yes, they got the push alert. No, they don’t mind a rain delay that means waiting at the front of the ACL Fest line from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — as soon as the gates open, two 22-year-old siblings from San Antonio, Oscar and Raquel Medina, said they’re bolting to the front of the stage for Miley Cyrus.

“We grew up watching her,” Oscar Medina said.

When it comes to the enigmatic, chameleonic singer, the duo loves her 2013 “Bangerz” era and 2019’s “She’s Is Coming” EP most. They just drove in this morning. Oscar Medina said he’s studied the set lists and researched clips of recent Cyrus performances; Raquel Medina has avoided video spoilers. Any act that spawns this kind of fandom seems poised to win the evening.

The two (and Oscar Medina in particular, donning a headband, clutch ear buds and purple hair) seemed steadfast in their commitment to enter muggy Zilker Park ahead of all other Cyrus fans. Yes, they have their vaccine cards.

Cyrus is set to take the Honda stage at 8 p.m.

Asleep at the Wheel's ACL tradition ends because of rain

Friday's three-hour delay to the start of this year's ACL Fest wiped out the traditional fest-opening set by local Western swing legends Asleep at the Wheel, who were scheduled to play at 1 p.m. on the Honda Stage. Rescheduling for another fest date is impossible, as the Wheel is on tour out west from Saturday through the end of ACL Fest's second weekend.

There's a pretty great silver lining here for Benson, though. As it happens, his first grandchild, Rhodes Paul Siefert, was born on Thursday at a local hospital to Ray's youngest son, Aaron Siefert. Benson had hoped to squeeze in a quick visit Friday, after the Wheel's set and before the band boarded a 4:30 p.m. plane to the Bay Area to start their tour on Saturday. Now he has a little easier time-window for that special meet-and-greet with Rhodes.

It's a boy! Asleep at the Wheel's ACL Fest streak is ending with a silver lining

American-Statesman correspondent Ramon Ramirez also contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.