Pecan Street Festival Friends and Supporters:
As the City of Austin and Gov. Abbott have both called for the cancellation of events with 10 or more people through May 1st, and are urging the cancellation of events with 250 or more people between May 2nd and July 12th, we anticipate that at any minute, the City of Austin will mandate the cancellation of our May 2 & 3, 2020, Spring Festival. As a nationally recognized festival with more than 200,000 attendees, we wholeheartedly believe this is absolutely necessary, given our collective situation.
In anticipation of the inevitable mandate, we have decided to formally announce the cancellation of the Spring Festival scheduled for May 2-3rd. This is the first cancellation in our 42+ year history, but we believe it is the best course of action, for the health and safety of our community.
We will be sending out an email to all confirmed vendors detailing refunds in the coming days.
We are cautiously optimistic the Fall Pecan Street Festival will proceed as currently scheduled (Sept. 19th & 20th).
Meanwhile, we’ll be working on an “online festival,” highlighting vendors, performers and sponsors that were confirmed to participate in May. Stay tuned to our socials on: Twitter; Facebook and Instagram.
We appreciate your long-standing support of the festival. Please stay safe out there!
While it might seem self-serving to pick two of our own for our annual Heritage Award, the rest of the Board of Directors felt overwhelmingly compelled to honor our longest-serving board members before we got too far down the line honoring other worthy candidates.
So if you’ll indulge us, and we suspect you’ll be more than happy to, we must pay homage to two folks who have spent many years and countless hours working to revive and preserve downtown Austin, while running popular business(es) in the heart of it.
“If there are any two people who have done more to ‘keep Austin weird’ than Esther’s Follies co-founders Shannon Sedwick and Michael Shelton, I’d be hard-pressed to name them.” – Virginia B. Wood, Austin Chronicle
In the late 70s, Sixth St. offered little to tempt college-goers and suburbanites to it; enter Shannon Sedwick and Michael Shelton, who met at UT-Austin in the late 60s. Already operating The Tavern and the famed, but long-gone Liberty Lunch since 1975, they decided to test the waters in 1977 with an April Fools event on Sixth Street; a talent show in what’s-now-known-as Flamingo Cantina. It was a smash; with singers, dancers, mimes and others improvising dances around a sprinkler in tribute to aquatic-choreographer Esther Williams. This vaudeville-revival event spawned “Esther’s Follies” – with accompanying visual easter eggs to Esther and her pool.
In 1983, a fire destroyed the club, and they moved to The Ritz Theater for a few years (where they would later promote punk shows), then to Sixth & Neches…and, then in 1988, they took over the last of the downtown topless bars (city council outlawed them in the area), the “Embassy Room,” to open up “The Velveeta Room, ” as stand up comedy was all the rage by this time. Eventually, the two, Esther’s and the “Velv” as it’s known to insiders, did meet as adjacent venues at Sixth St. and Red River.
Through Esther’s, Shannon and Michael have produced award-winning political comedy theater for over 40 years (they just won their 13th “Best of” in the Austin Chronicle).
This history is thoroughly explored in a recent book by Austin’s own Jesse Sublett.
Eventually they went on to open other restaurants such as: Patsy’s Cafe on Ben White Blvd., complete with Texas-twanged funky decor; re-opened the historic Tavern after it had been closed for a number of years; and most recently, re-opened Star Seeds Cafe – talk about keeping Austin weird (and well-fed!).
Besides all of that, they maintain an amazing artist colony (“The Farm”) in deep east Austin with historic houses/studios, farm animals, gardens, common work and play areas, along with the requisite funky water elements in cement and colored tile pieces.
Through all of this – and because all of this, and their love of Austin – Shannon and Michael have engaged in every opportunity they could to both revive Sixth Street/aka “Pecan Street” as a nightly destination for Austinites and tourists alike, and preserve the funky-feel that is its history. From the early days of mom and pop businesses, started by people from diverse backgrounds, with kids playing in the dirt streets, to the streetcar days of long dress-skirts and top hats, to the oversized cars and sense of prosperity of the 50s/early 60s to the desolate and seedy late 60s and 70s to the artist takeover and punk scene of the early 80s, the history is indeed rich – and should not be washed away.
They worked with a few Sixth St. business owners and preservationist Dr. Emma Lou Linn to form The Pecan Street Association in order to put on the very first Pecan Street Festival in 1979 – as a means of reviving interest in downtown. With persistence, it worked…bringing at least some increased level of activity during the early 80s recession. It’s grown from a couple of blocks of artists being visited by a few thousand folks to 300+ artists, 3 stages and 250,000 people each weekend!
Both Michael and Shannon continue to serve on the Pecan Street Association board, while Shannon is the past president of the 6ixth St. Property Owners Association, and served on the boards of the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Austin Arts Commission, and the Task Force for Street Closures (focusing on Sixth St. closures). Shannon also serves as Vice President of the board of ECHO, and last year, won the “I am Austin Woman!” award.
Introducing our 39th Annual Fall Pecan Street Festival‘s Featured Artist: Linda Dumont.
It would be easy to mistake Linda Dumont for a native Austinite, given the love she pours into her paintings that often feature iconic Austin images.
Hailing from the northeast, she attended The School of The Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (SMFA Boston) and Moore College of Art (Philidelphia), where she began to develop her unique style of bursting color and vitality. She says her 1984 move to Austin brought a “vast and youthful energy” to her work.
Art is literally in her blood, as the great grandniece on one side of her family of Joseph Margulies and the great grandniece on the other side of Mark Rothko! Being surrounded by such artistic greatness, she describes art as always having been integral to who she is.
Growing up so immersed in art lends towards her whimsical, yet, controlled, approach. Her rich, exploding abstract expressionist colors mixed with her easily-recognizable representational themes draws the viewer in completely, immersing them in her world.
“The artist renounces anything in their experience that is a barrier between themselves and life. It is making yourself more available, more gentle and open to others…then you can experience the goodness of being alive, and you can respect who and what you are, with a sense of reality and with gratitude towards life. I think we are experiencing art on the local scene as an awakening of the heart.” – Linda Dumont
Linda developed an original work for this Fall’s poster and t-shirt design, so please come pick one up at the Pecan Street Association Booth at Sixth St. and Trinity, and meet the artist in the booth next door!
How DO We DO It?
You’d be amazed how few people are behind the scenes creating the largest art and music festival in TX – TWICE a year – the only free fest of its kind around! Besides our hard-working volunteer board members; our part-time PSA executive director; our part-time bookkeeper Kristy Simpson; the amazing crew from Event Support Professionals; our bar staff led by Rebecca Ledesma; our electrical crew – trained by the late/great Bob “Bulb” Cannon; infrastructure from Adam’s Canopy; our music booker Michael Howard; and of course, our police officers/security team and medical team — much of the year-round heavy-lifting is done by our two stalwart producers, Luis Zapata and Christopher Haddad.
Another fest successfully in full gear!
For our first profile, we introduce you to Production Manager, Christopher Haddad. After graduating from St. Edward’s University with a degree in Digital Media, Chris knew what he wanted to do with that education straight away. He jumped right into talent buying and event production, soon coming to the attention of Pecan Street Festival’s producer Luis Zapata/Special Events Live in time for him to join the team for the spring 2012 Pecan Street Festival.
Chris pours his heart and soul into bringing Texans a great event. He curates, manages and places the nearly 300 art/craft and food vendors/working with government entities for permits/compliance; recruits and manages many of our sponsors along with their large-scale activations; coordinates all our digital media/on-line presence/oversees website updates and sees to it the festival comes off without a hitch.
Christopher in his element
“Pecan Fest is always…..there. Everything else has changed or is gone. It steps confidently along on its own unique pathway that cannot be matched, and is in my opinion, the last real remaining true Austin experience on such a large scale. To be a part of that for so many years, to see nearly everything else flow with the times and morph in so many ways and for us to still be here and keep our overall roots in tact; I mean…..we are the time capsule. It begs for its patrons to leave everything behind and take it in. It encourages everyone to still get weird. Where else can you still confidently use these defining characteristics around this town nowadays?” – Christopher Haddad
We here at the Pecan Street Association are pleased as punch with Chris’ endless energy and his dedication to constantly improving the festival such that it’s not only great for artists and festival-goers, but increasingly secure in its longevity.
Keep an eye out for him at the next festival and give him a thumbs up if you’re fast enough…he’ll be the blur moving at light speed!
Our friends over at Media On Edge produced an incredible video showcasing all the highlights of the Fall 2018 Festival. Click here to watch it to get a taste of what you’re in for this weekend! Read or listen to KUT’s coverage of the evolution of the Pecan Street Festival.
The Pecan Street Association board of directors is proud to present the art of one of Austin’s own native residents.
“The opportunity to be the featured artist for this spring’s Pecan Street Festival is an honor.” – Peter F. Ortiz
Peter F. Ortiz was born Dec. 20, 1960 in Austin, TX, and raised in Austin’s barrio Montopolis. His heritage in central Texas dates back several generations.
Peter graduated from A.S. Johnston High School in 1979, then attended Austin Community College and continued his education at the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles, CA. From 1981-1991, he lived in LA, moving to Long Island, NY before returning to Austin in 1993. He strives to immerse himself in various cultures to soak up the rich aesthetics, which has added texture, depth and perspective to his experiences and his art. Peter’s work has been exhibited in numerous galleries, museums, cultural centers and universities throughout the United States, Mexico and Spain.
Peter utilizes a variety of techniques and mediums in his work and often features “elements of nature and the environment intertwined with the human form in various shades of colors that invite the viewer to see the beauty in diversity.”
“In my images or stories, I describe some as spiritual or earthly matters using people in not so ordinary colors to connect with all races, fish, water and plants. I try not to use contemporary elements or clothing in belief this keeps my work timeless.” – Peter F. Ortiz
For Peter’s original piece for this festival’s image, “Cinco de Mayo,” he explains that the color road is symbolic for the iconic Mexican dress. You can find his booth, next to the Pecan Street Association booths with posters and t-shirts of his design, at Sixth St. & Trinity during the festival.
We warmheartedly present the newest addition to our Pecan Street family, Michael Howard, and his booking/events management company, Apogee Presents.
Having presented several alternative festivals in San Marcos, Michael bridges the two “college towns,” bringing an old-school “keeping it weird” vibe back to Austin while having his pulse on the latest and greatest sounds of central Texas.
His Spring Festival (May 4th and 5th) music line up builds on our commitment to diversity and supporting local up and comers, and embodies the same positive energy Michael brings to the table. His hard work and enthusiasm means that – way ahead of schedule – we are announcing our music line-up; and our Spotify channel is ready to enchant your earbuds!
Michael Howard and friends at the Martian Arts Festival, an Apogee Presents production