Just as he did in April, Gonzales County Judge Pat Davis once again approved a mass gathering permit for Float Fest. The permit, issued Oct. 23, will allow up to 25,000 individuals to gather at Jim Cannan’s property for a festival planned for July 24-26, 2020.
Float Fest founder Marcus Federman attended the public hearing Wednesday morning to answer any questions residents may still have about the festival and its implementation. Federman said the plan for this year’s event is virtually the same except for a change to the stage location. The unique music festival, which promotes river floating nearly as much as its musical acts, was set to make its debut in Gonzales County in July after years in the Martindale area. However, weather-related construction setbacks forced the delay of the festival to 2020.
Though Davis approved a previous permit for the festival in April, the beginning of the new fiscal year Oct. 1 necessitated another permit issuance which included another public hearing. Davis scheduled this fiscal year’s hearing earlier to assist with the festival’s planning.
Just as it was in April, there was little resistance offered at the public hearing. There was one woman that spoke out against the festival though. Gonzales resident Kim Haynes warned Davis about dangerous river conditions, drug use and other potential legal liabilities the county could be held accountable for if they allowed the festival to happen.
Haynes’s point was countered by local attorney Noel Reese who argued the festival’s potential pros far outweighed its cons.
“I think it’s a huge economic impact to our county and it would be foolish to turn it down,” Reese said.
Federman also responded to Haynes’s criticisms and offered to speak with her at a later date.
“I can assure you that we’re a first-class event and we have extreme measures in place for safety,” Federman said.
Davis also offered his own retort to Haynes’s statement. He said the 2.5 miles of the Guadalupe River that runs along the Cannan property is much safer than other, more frequently floated parts of the river. As for drugs, Davis mentioned it is an “everyday occurrence, each and every day, in this county.”
“Everyday somebody is put in jail from Gonzales County, even Gonzales County residents, that’s involved in some type of contraband,” Davis said.
Davis mentioned the last time the Float Fest public hearing was held the majority that spoke were in favor of the festival. He also lauded Federman as a “straight forward” and “very honest” man who goes out of his way to rent and contract locally for his event.
“I try very, very hard to find every piece of the puzzle that I need to produce the vessel here in Gonzales,” Federman said. “I’m going to work really hard to spotlight Gonzales to, really, the world.”