Euphoria Festival may reduce hours, pending lawsuit

Lauren Florence

Attendees at next year’s Euphoria Festival may be headed home earlier than they expected each night, while neighbors to the festival sleep in peace after the County Commissioners Court passed changes to mass-gathering regulations in August.

Euphoria Music and Camping Festival filed a lawsuit against Travis County in late September, after the Travis County Commissioners Court approved noise curfews. The new rules require all amplified music to end by 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. At the festival last April, music was scheduled until 12 a.m. on Sunday and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, according to Euphoria Festival’s website.

The suit challenges the legality of the new curfew, stating that the new rules are unconstitutional under state law. A county has no authority to enact zoning laws, according to the suit, and the Commissioners Court cannot regulate the festival’s hours of operation.

Commissioner Margaret Gomez said despite the court not having zoning authority, she doesn’t want to dismiss ounty government’s duty to improve the lives of citizens.

“[We] don’t have the zoning authority, of course, but we have statutes that are passed by the legislature which give us authority, or the ability, to look into making life a little better for people outside of the cities,” Gomez said.

Euphoria Festival takes place at Carson Creek Ranch, a private ranch in an unincorporated part of Travis County. Nearby neighbors complained about noise from the festival and other similar music festivals held at the location.

The Commissioners Court unanimously approved the revisions to the mass-gathering permits after hearing testimony in August from neighbors who live near the music festival venue.

Commissioner Brigid Shea said she voted to pass the motion because it gave each side a little of what they were asking for. 

“It’s a really important part of who we are as a community and how we’re known in the world, so the live music aura of our community is really important,” Shea said. “I also understand the human and public cost of excessive noise.”

Chad Shearer, chief operating officer and creative director at Caren West PR, manages public relations for Euphoria Festival and said he was unable to comment on any pending legal matters, since the suit hasn’t yet been heard.

“While the challenges presented to Euphoria and many other music events in Travis County have required we try to gain further clarity on how these new regulations may affect us, our current focus is on our fifth anniversary and doing everything we can to insure that this is the best Euphoria yet,” Shearer said.

The restricted hours the new rule enforces would diminishes the the festival, according to the suit.

“Euphoria cannot secure all of the performing talent for the festival if the hours of operation are restricted, and most such top talent must be secured many months in advance, because of the competing demand for their services,” the suit read.

The suit asks for a temporary and eventually permanent injunction against the the shorter hours of operation. Euphoria Festival will be April 7–10 and general admission tickets went on sale Oct. 16.