Texas Tribune Festival cancels all in-person events

Entertainment

Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, left, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, and El Paso businessman Woody Hunt

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb, more events are switching to virtual. The Texas Tribune Festival is the latest to change its plans.

The festival that highlights current politics and news, usually held in Downtown Austin, announced Wednesday morning its switch to completely online. It originally planned a hybrid approach, a mix of live and streamed sessions, but will eliminate the in-person slate. The annual gathering usually brings in a crowd of over a thousand and the Tribune says being able to hold it in-person and safely is “impossible.”

“We’re clearly not out of harm’s way. Even with proper protocols in place, putting a thousand or more people in enclosed spaces with the delta variant spreading is a risk not worth taking,” said Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of The Texas Tribune.

But ACL music festival is still on for October. An event that draws 75,000 people per day sold out tickets for this year’s festival in less than a day. Many are calling for event organizers to cancel, over fears of a potential super spreader event.

Texas Tribune says even with proper protocols in place, it is not worth the risk with the rise of the delta variant. The speaker lineup of 150 will stay the same and a large audience is expected despite its shift to virtual. As the festival enters its 11th year, it plans to discuss the aftermath of the winter storm as well as the economy and systemic racism.

The full festival program and new speakers will be announced on August 17.

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