Two-weekend ACL brings more music and money

Shane Miller

Two weekends of Austin City Limits makes the festival easier to attend but harder for locals to avoid. 

Following a unanimous decision by Austin City Council, C3 Presents — the independent company that puts on the festival — has been permitted to double ACL from one weekend to two weekends. This year’s ACL Fest will be held Oct. 4-6 and 11-13, with the majority of bands playing both weekends. 

The doubling of festival time means a greater influx of out-of-towners. Emily Jackson, front desk clerk for Hostelling International Austin, said they are completely booked. 

“All 49 of our beds are booked for the weekends, but there’s vacancies in between,” Jackson said. “We’re seeing people come from Mexico, Australia and Germany, but most are from within the United States.”

Jackson said the majority of the bookings last from Thursday through Sunday, an indicator that most of the guests are going to ACL.

“Normally on festival weekends it’s like this,” Jackson said. “Our price is normally $28.30 per night and during ACL it’s $37.50.”

Most businesses report higher expectations for the two weekend format. Food vendor The Mighty Cone, known for its easy-to-eat chicken in tortillas, are doubling its inventory. 

The Mighty Cone has been catering ACL since the second incarnation in 2002, when the festival reached out to owner Jeff Blank to run a food booth. 

“Last year, we sold about 45,000 cones,” Sara Courington, general manager of The Mighty Cone, said. “I’m in love with ACL’s commitment to local Austin food vendors because it’s respectful to what Austin’s all about.” 

Another local Austin eatery, Amy’s Ice Creams, shares the same optimism. 

“We aren’t necessarily expecting to see a 100 percent increase in sales but at least 80 percent,” said Aaron Clay, marketing and public relations director. “What’s interesting is that the weather is going to play an even bigger role; When the weather is between 72-88 degrees, it’s the best time to eat ice cream.”

Amy’s has been at ACL since the beginning and sold a reported $45,000 of ice cream at ACL 2012. 

Several music shows will also be played at venues like Emo’s, Stubb’s and Antone’s, all of which C3 owns or operates.

As part of its contract, C3 Presents will pay the city of Austin a base sum of $53,060 plus $3 per 3-day wristband sold. In 2009, the base sum was only $24,830. 

The festival is notorious for producing mass amounts of trash at the festival grounds, which C3 is legally obligated to take care of. 

“C3 rents the facility and they’re in charge of trash pickup. The department works with them, but we’re not in charge of clean up,” said Victor Ovalle, manager of Austin Parks and Recreation public information and marketing. 

C3 festival spokeswoman Lindsay Hoffman is more than confident about this year’s environmental workforce. Hoffman said C3 will have about 200 volunteers per day, as well as about 3,000 fans particpating in a recycling program. Other measures include composting, purchasing carbon offsets and providing eco-friendly food vending and merchandise. 

A week after clean up, the parks and recreation department will conduct what it calls “post-event maintenance.”

Ovalle said that the doubling in length is no cause for environmental concern.

“We’ve got good turf crews,” Ovalle said. “The good thing about C3 is that they’ve always helped us return the park back to normal.”

Read about how the two weekends of ACL will change transportation in the city.