Utopiafest moves to Reveille Peak Ranch

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By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Utopiafest organizers announced on their website Wednesday, Oct. 3, they are moving the festival to Reveille Peak Ranch on County Road 114.

Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd confirmed the move Wednesday and said he believes “this is a much better location for this type of event” than a private ranch on Shady Grove Road (County Road 200).

“I think this was something they had planned on doing after the public hearing and it was actually the first site they originally picked,” Boyd said. “I think they have a much better chance of getting a (mass gathering) permit with this new location. Reveille Peak is set up for events like this and getting out there is much safer, so I feel better about it.”

Boyd has been designated by County Judge James Oakley to determine if Utopiafest's application for a mass gathering permit should be granted. Originally, Boyd had planned to make an announcement on the permit by Oct. 9, based on the festival being held on the Harrison ranch on Hidden Ranch Road off Shady Grove Road — a site that had local residents concerned about traffic congestion and safety.

“We are going to push back the decision some since they have changed the location so they can get their ducks in a row,” Boyd said. “I have reached out to other counties who have handled these types of permits before and this is normal for how the process works. It is a fluid situation and they fill in the blanks as they go.

“We have a little time before a decision must be made. We have to make it 10 days before the event begins, so we'll give them time to get everything done.”

A mass gathering permit is required for any event with attendance of 2,500 or more people. Previously, Utopiafest representatives said they would consider capping ticket sales at 2,499 if they did not get approved for the mass gathering permit at the Hidden Ranch site.

Boyd said he would prefer the event receive a permit if it is going to be held.

“From my point of view, we can keep a better eye on things if there is a permit,” Boyd said. “If it is on private property and there is no permit, we can't go on the property unless there is an emergency, a reason to do so.”

The festival is scheduled for Nov. 2-4 , though the campgrounds are expected to open on Halloween, Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Patty Griffin, STS9 and Medeski's Mad Skillet are among the announced festival headliners as 36 acts are expected to perform during the three-day festival, which also will have a preview performance Thursday, Nov. 1, headlined by hip-hop icon Grandmaster Flash and Keller Williams.

For the past nine years, Utopiafest was held at the Four Sisters Ranch in the small Uvalde County community which lent its name to the festival and attracted around 2,000 people, but festival organizers are expecting as many as 4,000 people to attend now that the festival will be closer to Austin.

Organizers have even arranged for shuttles to and from Austin to bring festival goers to the site. The majority of festival goers — about 70 to 80 percent — reportedly come from the greater Austin area.

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