ACL brings first state mega-event since COVID-19

Black Pumas perform on day one of the Austin City Limits Music Festival's first weekend on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

Austin City Limits Music Festival is a two-weekend event held in Zilker Park in Austin. The first weekend, Oct. 1-3, featured artists such as Miley Cyrus, Greta Van Fleet, Doja Cat and country legend George Strait. Weeks before the festival took place, ACL announced, in reference to the City of Austin’s order, that masks will be mandated in specific areas of the park.

“Masks will be required in areas of Zilker Park where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, including on festival shuttle buses, entrance lines, areas closest to the stages and in the limited indoor areas at the festival, including our on-site merchandise store,” ACL said.

Spring sophomore Payton Perez attended the festival all three days and said she felt that the mask mandate was not enforced.

“Some workers were wearing masks but they were pulled down their face,” Perez said. “I hardly saw any patrons wearing masks; they didn’t enforce it at all.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler told KVUE that he thinks the city will be okay after weekend one, after seeing the lack of masks worn throughout the festival.

“The risks were weighed versus the benefit of getting some people vaccinated,” Adler said in an interview with KVUE. “The positivity rate down such that it’s going to be fewer and farther between the people in the concert like that would be next to somebody who had the virus. We think we’re going to be OK.”

Austin sophomore Gabby Sherwood attended the festival for her fourth time, opting to wear her mask although it was not heavily enforced.

“I kept my mask on the entire time [since] there was no social distancing, just to add another level of protection for myself,” Sherwood said. “Since COVID-19 is still a really big issue, it is a privilege to be able to go to something like a music festival, especially when you have a vaccine and you know that if you get COVID you’ll be fine; I think it’s just right to do your part and keep your mask on even when it’s not convenient for you.”

While masks were not heavily enforced throughout the park, proof of a negative COVID-19 test or a vaccination was required to enter the festival. Perez said ACL did not check her vaccination card upon entry on the first day, but did on day two and three.

“I felt pretty safe, especially Saturday and Sunday when they were checking everybody’s cards, I knew that everybody was either negative or vaccinated,” Perez said. “I do think that it’s nice to be getting back to normal.”

Sherwood said the event wasn’t significantly different from past years.

“It looked pretty much the same to previous years I’ve been to,” Sherwood said. “It was a little unreal to be there because I haven’t been to anything like that since COVID started, so it was a little weird, but so fun.”

ACL weekend two will take place Oct. 8-10 with the same guidelines in store for the festival. Any guest attending will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test, or vaccination proof to enter the park.