AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thousands of people are expected to attend a two-day wine, food and music festival that kicked off Friday at the Long Center, even though other large events in Austin were recently canceled and denied permits.
The Pecan Street Festival, which was scheduled for Sept. 18-19, was denied a permit by the city of Austin, according to organizers. The same thing happened to Bat Fest 2021 last month, which was denied a permit the week of when the event was supposed to happen.
So why is the Blended Austin event allowed to go on?
The Austin Center for Events told KXAN you don’t need a special event permit for events with 100 or more attendees at the Long Center, because it’s not a city-run facility.
The Blended Austin team has, however, set up its own requirements for attendees.
To gain entry, attendees of the inaugural Blended Austin event had to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event.
“The Blended team made sure to go above and beyond to comply with the City of Austin’s COVID-19 protocols, including requiring that all guests provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event,” the Blended team told KXAN in a statement.
The City of Austin at the end of August changed its requirements for large outdoor events that will have more than 2,500 people attending, saying they must now require a negative COVID-19 test from all attendees, regardless of vaccination status.
Blended Austin partnered with Clear Health pass to make the entrance process easier. Ticket holders were required to download and complete a health survey through the app upon entry.
And for those who couldn’t get a test in advance or chose not to, the festival offered rapid COVID-19 testing services on site for $30.
“It was really easy,” Jessica Mims told KXAN on her way into the festival. “We just walked through, and (the test) took less than five minutes.”
The Long Center did implement stricter mask rules as of Sept. 3. According to its website, masks are required, even outdoors, when not eating or drinking. This is a requirement the Blended team says it’s also following.
The Blended Austin event will continue Saturday.