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Float Fest Keeps Upping its Game in Year 5

Float Fest hosted tens of thousands of revelers last weekend, many of which came with their own festival-themed gear.EXPAND
Float Fest hosted tens of thousands of revelers last weekend, many of which came with their own festival-themed gear.
Photo by Clint Hale

MARTINDALE – Float Fest is one of those festivals that always sounded like a better idea in theory than in actual practice. We take tens of thousands of partiers, have them camp on spacious ranch grounds for a couple nights and shuttle them to the river for a little floating. Then, when they’re off the river, have live music from a number of noteworthy acts, not to mentioned food and drink vendors and a smattering of carnival rides and games.

Sounds cool, and it is. What’s most amazing is that Float Fest, which wrapped up its fifth year, last weekend, continues to pull this off.

Float Fest is a fairly simple enterprise. You show up and park in your campsite. Then, you set up camp. For some, including yours truly, that mostly means laying down a couple blankets in your car. You knock down a few beers at the site, then hit the river. Get off the river, and head to the festival grounds to see the likes of Lil Wayne, Bassnectar, Snoop Dogg, and Modest Mouse.

Float Fest organizers were prepared for the hysteria that awaited them in 2018. Getting in was a smooth, organized experience. Water stations and restrooms were plentiful, as were Float Fest volunteers on the river ensuring the river was kept clean. Shuttle lines got a bit long during peak hours, but that was to be expected. And police and paramedics were on-hand to provide assistance as needed.

Lil Wayne played Saturday night...EXPAND
Lil Wayne played Saturday night...
Photo by Clint Hale
...as did Modest Mouse.EXPAND
...as did Modest Mouse.
Photo by Clint Hale

Float Fest, which emanated from Cool River Ranch in tiny Martindale (located just outside San Marcos) didn’t lack for talent on its 2018 lineup. Bassnectar. Snoop Dogg. Lil Wayne. Modest Mouse. Run the Jewels. Toadies. Bun B. Houston’s own the Suffers. Float Fest didn’t simply rest on its laurels and assume the water and camping would bring in attendees in 2018; instead, organizers went out and got name-brand, established acts to help round out a worthwhile festival experience.

Here’s hoping they continue that momentum in 2019.

Float Fest features carnival games galore.EXPAND
Float Fest features carnival games galore.
Photo by Clint Hale
Float Fest Keeps Upping its Game in Year 5EXPAND
Photo by Clint Hale

So, How Was the Crowd?: A bit older than I remembered from my previous Float Fest travails Sure, there were plenty of local collegiates in the crowd ready to make a weekend of it, but there was also a healthy number of 30-somethings on hand, many of which opted for a one-night experience. On the whole, the vibe was good, which was somewhat surprising, considering the brutal heat was enough to agitate even the most patient of people.

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Throwback Jersey Report: A small sample, and this doesn’t even begin to cover all we saw in the crowd. A LeBron James high school jersey. A Danny Granger Indiana Pacers jersey. A Pete Maravich Utah Jazz jersey. Several Shaq and Penny jerseys from their Orlando days. Two (two!) Patty Mills San Antonio Spurs jerseys. Festivals have become the go-to spot for those looking to showcase their throwbacks, and Float Fest didn’t disappoint.

Random Notebook Dump: I grew up not far from where Float Fest takes place, so you’d think I’d be somewhat accustomed to that level of heat. You’d be wrong … I’m sort of a sucker for the overall premise of Float Fest, considering two of my favorite pastimes are live music and floating the river … Props to local vendors like the Burger Joint and Wokker getting their trucks on display at Float Fest. Very curious to see where the festival takes its music lineup next year. Will it continue to feature a healthy mix of hip-hop, rock and EDM, or start veering more toward one particular medium? Guess we’ll find out when the festival lineup drops in Spring 2019.

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