Burn ban enforcement extends to smoking at ACL

Allie Kolechta

Smokers with ACL tickets may have to make their way outside of Zilker Park for a smoke break because of a Travis County burn ban put in effect this April.

The burn ban was put in place because of drought conditions that caused the recent wildfires in Bastrop County and other areas near Austin, said Victor Ovalle, a spokesperson for the Parks and Recreation Department of the city of Austin. The ban will be upheld during the music festival at Zilker Park in downtown Austin, he said.

“We are working closely with the producers of ACL on the burn ban and they’re on board,” Ovalle said. “They’ve been very understanding of how critical the situation is.”

Zilker Park is unique in that it has its own irrigation system, Ovalle said. While fires may start in areas surrounding the venue, the risk of fires within the venue itself is not high, he said.

“Even if people don’t follow the ban, the chances of getting a fire inside ACL is pretty slim,” he said. “Our biggest concern is when people are leaving the festival or coming to it through surrounding areas. Those areas are pretty dry.”

The threat of a fire actually starting at ACL is highly unlikely, said advertising junior Wesley Vanderpool, who has a three-day pass for ACL this year and is a smoker.

“People are stomping all over your cigarette once you put it out, and someone would notice a fire started and get on it,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any danger of a wildfire starting because of cigarettes or pot. There’s going to be people ready for it. It’s not a valid connection.”

Reaction to the ban by attendees is going to be negative, Vanderpool said. Having to leave their spot for a smoke break will be difficult and inconvenient, he said.

“I’m trying to quit cigarettes, so I guess that it’s a good thing, but I feel sad for everyone else who won’t be able to smoke,” he said. “It’s going to be tough getting into the venue in the first place, it’s definitely going to be tough getting in and out for a cigarette break. There’s going to be a lot of angry people.”

Printed on September 13th, 2011 as: Smoking ban to be enforced at ACL Festival this weekend