Before the pandemic, Scot Wilkinson, Round Rock arts and culture director, said Round Rock had around 300 arts events per year with an attendance average of 250,000 people. Attendees would contribute to the city’s economy beyond the purchase of a ticket, with an estimated spending of around $31 per person on expenses such as gas and eating out.
Wilkinson said he estimates millions of dollars were lost by not holding those events.
Now with more information on how COVID-19 spreads and increased vaccination rates, Will Hampton, communications and marketing director for Round Rock, said the city has been able to make event plans for 2021.
In a biannual survey sent to Round Rock residents in December asking what it would take for people to feel comfortable going out, vaccinations was the No. 1 answer, he said.
“Our sense is folks are ready to get out,” Hampton said.
Community Impact Newspaper previously reported Williamson County’s April 20 announcement to shut down mass-vaccination sites as demand is decreasing a large site was no longer necessary. With more people vaccinated, Wilkinson said it is time to get out and put artists back to work.
“[Artists have] suffered so long this last year for not being able to perform,” he said. “ A lot of those people, they make their living by performing. It’s time to get back on the saddle again.”
Sounds of summer
Each city has plans to hold outdoor music events, starting with Round Rock’s Music on Main concert series. Music on Main will take place each Wednesday in May from 6-8 p.m. at Prete Plaza, Hampton said.
With recent downtown streetscape improvements, Hampton said it is a great time for people to come and hang out.
“We’re looking forward to having folks come back downtown, enjoy a live show, and then hopefully go grab a bite to eat and have a drink at one of the businesses downtown,” he said.
Country singer Dale Watson will kick off the series May 5 with performances by The Derailers, Beat Root Revival and Del Castillo planned for the following Wednesdays.
Hampton said the May 5 performance will coincide with a celebration recognizing Round Rock as a certified music-friendly community by the Texas Music Office.
Another musical event in the works in Pflugerville is a modified version of Music in the Park, although no dates have been confirmed, said Maggie Holman, city of Pflugerville public information officer. The annual event held at Pfluger Park is expected to take place on Friday evenings in June, July and August, she said.
The city is waiting on band bookings to establish dates. While Pflugerville is actively preparing for events, many of the details are not ready to be released yet, Holman said. Each event is evaluated separately to tailor the safety measures based on past attendance and the needs of that event.
Safety precautions for Pflugerville events are posted on the city’s website and social media accounts before they happen, Holman said. These website posts often come with a frequently asked question section for attendees to properly prepare ahead of time.
“As restrictions are kind of evolving, we want to make sure that we’re doing what is the safest at that particular time,” she said.
Another outdoor music event, KOKEFEST, will be held at Hutto Park at Brushy Creek Aug. 6-7. The festival, organized by Austin Radio Network’s KOKE-FM, will feature 12 country music bands, according to the KOKE-FM Facebook page.
KOKE-FM is expected to make its lineup announcement May 3. Cody Johnson, Koe Wetzel, Turnpike Troubadours, Parker McCollum, Robert Earl Keen, Aaron Watson and Mark Chesnutt are listed as past headliners on the KOKEFEST website.
Out to the ballgame
More fans will be able to attend Round Rock Express games at Dell Diamond now that the stadium will operate at an increased capacity, starting with the team’s first home game May 6, said Andrew Felts, Round Rock Express public relations and communications manager.
The Express will have 12 back-to-back home games May 6-18 and will play six home games every other week in June, starting June 3, he said.
The lower seating bowl from sections 112-128 will be fully open with sections 206-209 and sections 110-111 in a pod-style group seating format for those who wish to social distance. Each pod seating group is spaced out by 6 feet.
Social-distancing measures will also be in effect at the stadium entrance and exit as well as in lines to concession stands and the team store. Felts said Major League Baseball requires everyone in attendance to wear a mask unless eating or drinking so those policies will be in effect at Dell Diamond.
The MLB left capacity decisions to each team’s city and county, Felts said. Dell Diamond received permission to open at increased capacity from the city of Round Rock and Williamson County.
As far as masks and social distancing, Felts said it is up to the MLB whether those practices will continue. For now, he said it will most likely continue for most of the season.
Last year, the group Black Families of Hutto organized the first Juneteenth event in Hutto with collaborations from Chief of Police Paul Hall and former Mayor Doug Gaul.
This year, Onnesha Williams, a Hutto resident and co-founder of Black Families of Hutto, said organizers want to make it bigger. Juneteenth is the day that celebrates when the last enslaved people were notified of their freedom on June 19, 1865, over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture website. Williams said launching the event in 2020 was responsive to the times. Following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the national and international response, she said the group wanted to highlight the issues the Black community in Hutto face everyday.
This year’s celebration will begin with a march from Hutto Middle School to City Hall from 10-11 a.m. June 19 followed by a ceremony at City Hall from 11 a.m.-noon, Williams said. A vendor fair will take place from noon-6 p.m. in front of City Hall and along Co-Op Boulevard, which will include around 30 retail and food vendors. Hutto's Juneteenth event will be open to the public and is inclusive, Williams said.
“A lot of times people think if it is a Black-centered holiday or a Black-centered something, then maybe it’s not for other cultures,” she said. “Our event is inclusive, and it’s open to all, and we welcome all types of businesses as far as Black-owned and non-Black-owned businesses.”
Entertainment will include cultural performances such as dances and step shows. Bounce houses for kids are also planned, Williams said.
For COVID-19 safety measures, Williams said organizers will be asking that social distancing guidelines be followed, and face masks will be required for attendees. The group has received approval for those participating in the march to park at Hutto Middle School from Hutto ISD Superintendent Celina Estrada Thomas, Williams said. Parking for the fair will be available in downtown Hutto and at City Hall.
One of Pflugerville’s biggest, most well-known festivals, Deutschen Pfest, is planned for Oct. 15-17, Holman said. Previously held annually in the spring, the festival was moved to October last year to align with the German festival Oktoberfest, she said.In the past, Deutschen Pfest has had music, a 5K run, a parade and over 100 vendors. Holman said the city is in the early planning stages of the event, so how similar this year’s festival will look compared to previous years has not yet been established.
Organizing Deutschen Pfest is a true partnership between city staff and Pflugerville residents, Holman said. Because of the resident representation on the event committee, community input is very much part of the decisions on how the festival will look, she said.
Another annual event, the Olde Tyme Days festival, will be hosted by the Hutto Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 16 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The festival will have retail and food vendors serving foods such as barbecue, fair foods and snow cones, Finance and Information Specialist Sonia Herrera said. A car show and live music will also take place all day. The Hutto Chamber of Commerce recently held its annual Crawfish Festival and Car Show on April 17, which has a similar format to the Olde Tyme Days festival. Herrera said during the Crawfish Festival the chamber enforced a 10-foot separation between booths for social distancing.
One of Round Rock’s biggest annual festivals, the Chalk Walk Arts Festival, is planned for Oct. 1-2, Hampton said. The festival was first held downtown but grew in popularity and is now hosted outside of Dell Diamond in the parking lot, he said.
During the Chalk Walk, people can create chalk art on the pavement and sidewalks while enjoying music, food and vendors.
Hampton said events such as the Chalk Walk Arts Festival and Music on Main are important to Round Rock’s economic mix. When people come into town, they are staying at hotels, buying gas and going to restaurants.
“We like having these kinds of events that draw people to the community,” he said.