By Kaitlyn DeHaven | Design Editor
Weekend one of Austin City Limits delivered artists and savory and sweet treats, it also provided a unique experience for festival-goers, making an effort to ensure the occasion was extremely enjoyable for the diverse audience.
One of the services that ACL provided was Americans with Disabilities (ADA) accommodations for those who might not have been able to enjoy the festival otherwise. From sign-language interpretations to special platforms for those with disabilities, ACL encouraged all to enjoy their time at the event.
Susan Nozick, a volunteer with the ADA accommodations, said they have made a large effort to make it as easy as possible for individuals who need accommodations to experience the festival.
“They come right to us and we give them a wristband, they’re allowed a companion on the platform and it just provides them a more comfortable viewing area.” Nozick said. “It allows everyone to enjoy the festival on an equal playing field.”
In addition, while ACL strives to give festival-goers an enjoyable, unforgettable experience, they also have a strong commitment to sustainability.
The Austin Parks Foundation leads a program for the festival called Rock & Recycle, which ensures that Zilker Park stays green and healthy. There are two unique ways visitors can get involved, the first being more physical and the second being more educational.
Manar Hasan, the Rock & Recycle team lead, said the first way visitors can get involved is by filling a bag with recyclables they find on the ground at the park, which usually consists of cups and cans. The second way guests can participate is by going on a scavenger hunt to find 12 decorative recycling cans that have signs next to them with fun facts about the Austin Parks Foundation. After participants turn in their bag of cans or their scavenger hunt sheet, they are then given a T-shirt and are entered in a raffle to win either two tickets to ACL next year or a new bike.
Hasan said one of the most interesting pieces of the program is that it also involves local artists from around Austin.
“We’re working with Hope Gallery on this. They have commissioned 12 local artists to graffiti on the 12 different recycling bins, that’s why they’re so fancy,” Hasan said. “They were told to draw with their own style but to draw something about recycling or the Austin Parks Foundation and those drawings are then turned into the T-shirt designs.”
Two different T-shirt designs are offered each day, for a total of 12 different T-shirt designs throughout the entire festival.
Another new service that the festival has added just this year is called “Sober Park.” Sober Park is run by an organization called Harmonium and is a way newly sober people can get away from the crowds and temptations and talk to volunteers and other people who are also newly sober to get support.
Eric K.,* a volunteer at Sober Park, explained how it can be sometimes be hard for people to restrain themselves from their cravings, and this is a safe space where they can come.
“It’s a place for people who don’t want to drink to come hang out and get away from the craziness because there are a bunch of people newly sober here and this is a trigger-laden environment,” Eric said. “We’re not getting the publicity that Jay-Z and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are getting, but it’s growing. At one point the tent was full and we didn’t have any chairs.”
Sober Park holds meetings at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. each day of the festival.
Silent Disco is also a cutting-edge, unqiue event that ACL has added to their festival. Offered each night from 8 to 10 p.m., Silent Disco puts a twist on a traditional disco by first giving participants headphones that can individually to switch between three DJ’s. Everyone is dancing together while listening to different things.
This event brings the fun and dancing of a disco dance party, with the added, convenient bonus of being able to switch channels if one dislikes a song.
Keith Kregel, a Silent Disco participant, said that he thought the event was great because it provided music from all ages for people of all ages.
“It was intriguing to watch and exciting to participate in,” Kregel said. “It really captivated people are all ages and I definitely enjoyed the time spent dancing with great music and skilled DJs.”
Overall, ACL weekend one brought tunes and accommodating fun for the diverse needs of guests in the park.
*Eric K. has asked that we keep his last name anonymous in the spirit of his organization.