5,000-attendee festival coming to Marfa next year

MARFA – C3 Presents, a subsidiary of Live Nation that puts on large music festivals like the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza, is organizing a festival of some kind near Marfa, with plans to host 5,000 visitors in its first year in 2020. At last Thursday’s city council meeting, Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger explained that she’d had a cursory meeting with the festival organizers, who say they will hold the festival on a private ranch north of town, located across the Fort Davis highway from the Marfa Municipal Airport, and that attendance would be held to 5,000 festivalgoers the first year. The property is believed to be the Catto-Gage Ranch, according to a Highland Soil & Water Conservation District map of Presidio County ranches. Nafziger said the Austin-based entertainment company plans to give 10 percent of ticket sales to a community organization, and that they are interested in the money going either to Marfa schools or city parks. And that’s pretty much what the public knows about this planned event at the moment. Already, some opposition is arising. Reached for comment, C3 Presents Director of Publicity Sandee Fenton provided this statement: “We are in the very early stages of developing an art-focused festival on private land just outside of Marfa city limits. We look forward to engaging the surrounding communities and working with local officials as we continue to work out the details.” Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara said this week that the organizers haven’t reached out to her. C3 Presents is a company founded in Austin and helmed by three men named Charles or Charlie: Charles Walker, Charles Jones, and Charles Attal, who is on the Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees, according to Ballroom’s website. The company works on a large scale. The Austin City Limits Music Festival now draws around 450,000 festival-goers over two weekend, up from the 42,000 who attended its inaugural 2002 event. Lollapalooza brings 160,000 attendees to its Chicago event. There is already a small grassroots opposition from some Marfa residents, who are wary of another busy weekend in Marfa, especially if it coincides with an event weekend like the Marfa Lights Festival, as has been rumored. C3 festivals are much like the other large banner US music festivals, with large stages, elaborate productions, and big name music acts. Though the organizers have been planning the event since last year, the company has remained tight-lipped with details. Those who already are opposing it want to know how the festival will impact Marfa residents, including public safety, fuel sales during that weekend, sanitary concerns, and just the crush of festival-goers twice the population of Marfa. And other than a donation to one of Marfa’s causes or the school district, opponents want to know how the festival will benefit its businesses and residents.