AUSTIN (KXAN) — In honor of the Pecan Street Festival’s 40th spring event, the City of Austin officially proclaimed May 6, 2017, as “Pecan Street Festival Day.”

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo is visiting the Pecan Street Festival Saturday to announce the city’s proclamation. The city is also designating the annual festival, which it says is the largest music and arts festival in Texas, as Austin’s own “Heritage Event.”

The fest runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. There will be nearly 300 local and national arts, crafts and food vendors and about 50 musical acts. It’s expected to draw nearly 250,000 visitors to downtown Austin this weekend.

Music highlights for the festival include Eva Ybarra, Pleasure Venom, Kady Rain, Tahoma, RIDERS AGAINST the STORM (RAS), and Ringo Deathstar. Also joining the festival’s three stages is My Jerusalem, Brainwavve, Cha’keeta Banita, and Shapescapes among others.

The event is put on by the Old Pecan Street Association.  Organizers say that in the 1970s, downtown was scarcely populated, with abandoned buildings scattered about.

Then, a group of Austinites formed the Old Pecan Street Association with the aim of reclaiming downtown space and starting renovation of old buildings.

“The idea was to preserve the historical appeal of the street, while revitalizing the downtown area,” said Shannon Sedwick, vice president of the Pecan Street Association. The association wanted to uphold a sense of the buildings’ past and present, she said.

The association needed adequate funding for restoration costs and bringing a street fair to life was a solution to their problems. In 1977, the Pecan Street Festival was started and included local food and art vendors along with bands from the surrounding area, establishing a community event for cultural preservation and creativity.

Due to the festival’s positive turnout, the celebration became a biannual spring and fall tradition, honoring 6th Street’s original name, Pecan Street.