By Carlos Morales
Next month, an Austin-based event company will be center stage at a community forum in Marfa. The company is planning to address concerns over a proposed festival in far West Texas.
Officials with C3 Presents, including its founder Charles Attal, are expected to discuss the controversial festival, which will reportedly be held in May 2020 on a ranch just outside of Marfa’s city limits.
Marfa Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger says she reached out to Attal to invite him and other representatives with C3 Presents.
“I expressly let him know that a lot of community members from both Marfa and the surrounding region have a lot of concerns,” said Nafziger in an interview with Marfa Public Radio. “I let him know that I have a lot of concerns and that I felt like the community really needed to be heard.”
Local concerns over the festival have ranged from public safety to impacts on the environment and local infrastructure. Nafziger says organizers expect the festival to draw around 5,000 people. That would be more than double the size of Marfa’s population, as well as its largest annual festival, the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love at El Cosmico.
In an email to Marfa Public Radio, a spokesperson for C3 Presents says they “look forward to discussing our plans and addressing the concerns of the community.”
During her discussions with the festival company, Mayor Nafziger says, C3 Presents has talked about giving 10 percent of ticket sales to a local non-profit organization.
“When I spoke with them they were interested in that money going to the school or to city parks,” said Mayor Nafziger.
Word of a festival in the Marfa-area first began months ago. The rumors were eventually confirmed during a Marfa City Council meeting when Mayor Nafziger acknowledged the plans.
The news of a potential festival has drawn an almost immediate backlash. This week in the Big Bend Sentinel, an advertisement for “Big Bend Fest Control” was run, asking if locals have “had it up to here with culture vultures, influencers and the selfie-important?”
Anti-festival sentiment is running high in Marfa these days… pic.twitter.com/AQiMau3Mnd
— Rachel Monroe (@rachmonroe) March 7, 2019
The ad also seems to refer to the recent Yeah Field Trip, which held an event in Marfa last weekend. The event has been referred to as a festival for social media influencers.