Austin Fan Fest

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In celebration of the inaugural Formula One race last weekend, nine blocks of downtown were closed for a free street festival called Austin Fan Fest. Corporate sponsors such as Mobil, eBay, and Red Bull set up large tents containing mostly race cars and video games. Food trailers were in abundance. Vendors sold racing-related merchandise including F1-licensed clothing and artwork. A Kids Zone featured family-friendly activities: Hot Wheels races, face painting, live music, inflatables, and racing games. 

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Mostly local musicians performed on the festival’s four stages, including Bob Schneider, Whiskey Shivers, and Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears.

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Several not-for-free concerts were held at other locations, such as Aerosmith at the Frank Erwin Center and The Wallflowers at ACL Live. Bill and I hadn’t planned to attend any of these performances since the tickets seemed to be overpriced. But Saturday evening on Congress Avenue, someone was handing out free tickets to see Enrique Iglesias at the Austin Convention Center. He is Julio Iglesias‘ son and the boyfriend of tennis player Anna Kournikova.

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Bill and I arrived late and watched his show from the back of the auditorium. After he sang a few songs, the stage lights went dark, and we assumed the show was over. But Enrique surprisingly jumped up on a platform right next to us. Bill and I were immediately swarmed by screaming teenage girls. We are clearly not his target audience, but he had some pretty catchy pop tunes (especially I Like It) and was fun to watch.

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Austin Fan Fest had been billed as “the world’s biggest party destination with an expected attendance of over 200,000 people.” Attendance wasn’t close to that number (no complaints from the downtown residents). The festival ran Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but attendance for the last day was very light. I’m betting that next year’s Fan Fest ends on Saturday. I’d also suggest that the organizers end the music earlier before 2 AM!

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