AUSTIN (KXAN) — In just a few days, Austin City Limits Music Festival will begin, and it’ll be unlike any ACL Fest before.
Fans will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. They’ll also be required to wear masks in some areas of the festival.
The owner of Austin-based Waterloo Records says for the first time, they decided not to be there.
“It’s disappointing, because ACL is one of the few festivals in the country that still had autograph signings,” said festival-goer Jorge Ramos, who says he tries to get something at the Waterloo tent each year.
Ramos saw the company’s post on social media, saying it is bummed but hopes to resume artist autographs at ACL Fest next year, along with its mini record store.
The owner told KXAN he didn’t want to risk the safety of his staff, customers or artists. Ramos says although he’s disappointed, he understands the decision.
“At the same time, just based on the pandemic and everything, there’s barely any record store signings right now or anything, so I feel like I was just waiting for the news to, like, break,” he said.
Other vendors, like Easy Tiger, are forging ahead. CEO Mike Stitt says they were hoping to make 2020 their first year at the festival, but it got canceled.
“When we heard that the ’21 festival was going to be on, we were 100% committed right away,” Stitt said.
His employees have been preparing for the festival for around six months — now getting into crunch time.
“The logistical preparations started a long time ago, but everything’s going to be baked fresh, baked from scratch, baked to order right here in Austin,” Stitt said.
He says they’re expecting to feed about 75,000 people over the two weekends.
“It’s just a good way for us to get our brand out there, and, you know, be in front of people and also just celebrate, like the fact of being back together,” said Stitt.
He says even with changing COVID-19 protocols and case concerns, they were committed to being at the festival as long as it was happening.
“We’re confirming that all of our staff that are going to be there are going to be fully vaccinated,” he said, adding all staff will also be wearing masks, like they do at all Easy Tiger locations.
Ramos says he also plans to do the same.
“A lot of us have been waiting for concerts and festivals to happen again, and I don’t want to wait 16 months again for this, so I’m just going to follow the rules,” he said.
Despite COVID-19 concerns for some, ACL festival organizers say they actually have one more vendor this year than they did in 2019.