Updated: Monday, 21 Jun 2010, 9:54 AM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 27 Jan 2010, 8:37 PM CST
LAKE TRAVIS, Texas (KXAN) - Sail and Ski's Rod Malone knew he would get some attention with the honor his northwest Austin boat dealership just received, but that award went well beyond customers, peaking the interest of organizers of the “World's Largest Party on the Water.”
"We were just named by Boating Industry Magazine as the #1 Dealer in North America,” Malone explained.
That area had record fuel sales, thousands of hotel room bookings, and an average of $100 in grocery sales per boat. Here at home, Malone is banking on that same success. Lake Travis needs it.
"(The event) could ultimately be ranked like SXSW or Austin City Limits," he said.
Lake Travis lost a lot of water during a two-year drought. New islands popped up as the bottom of the lake began to emerge. By the end of last summer, boaters were down to just one ramp.
“Most of the big boats are out,” said boater Casey Clawson, “because they're docked in the marinas. You just don't see a lot of the weekend warriors out. It's not as busy as it normally is."
Water is the biggest worry, wondering if the event could pull out. Last July, the level on Lake Travis was at 638 feet. It has gone up about 20 feet since then but still has another 11 feet to go before reaching the normal level for this July when AquaPalooza is supposed to take place.
"Certainly, if there's not enough water in the lake,” said Laura Mitchell, president of the Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce, “the event can't happen, but we'll cross our fingers. El Nino's still around. We've had some good rain so far and hope that will continue."
Mitchell added during the drought, surrounding communities saw their sales tax revenues drop. Businesses have been waiting for a boost like this.
"Hopefully, that shot in the arm we need," she said.
If AquaPalooza is anything like what it's been in the past, Malone's boating business stands to make a lot of money, too.
"If you don't have a boat,” he joked, “get one. If you have a friend that has a boat, load it up and come on out."
Organizers are still trying to finalize who will be the musical acts and the exact site for the event, but we do know it will be somewhere in the area between Pace Bend Park and Mansfield Dam on one of the two last weekends of July.
Another big concern beyond the water is the security needed for all of those people. We've learned, in a stakeholder meeting, local police, the Travis County Sheriff's Office, the county parks division, LCRA, even private security do have concerns. They're all on board for now and just need to iron out the details.