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The People and Culture Behind Houston’s Most Iconic Music Festival

By Ella Robertson

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For seven years, Free Press Summer Fest has continuously grown in reputation as well as attendees, which has culminated in it becoming the most recognizable music festival within the Houston area.

Patrons consider Free Press to be accessible to both experienced and newbie festival-goers alike.

“This is my first year at Free Press,” says Simone Collins, 18. “I’ve been to Sun Fest in Florida, and Free Press is similar, but it has a younger crowd, which I appreciate.”

“I went to Free Press two years ago, and now I’m finally back,” states Elise Wilkins, 26. “I feel as though the festival has changed for the better since I’ve been. Back then, the genres of music were very limited, but I feel like now they’re trying to bring in different types of artists.”

For Houstonians, Free Press is more than just a music festival; it’s a staple of the city’s music scene.

As Enola Brown, 17, states, “I feel like this festival actually creates a music scene for our city. Mostly, Houston is known for big, tourist-y arena acts, but Free Press brings an Austin feel to Houston.”

However, many attendees were nervous about the bad weather forecast and sudden venue change from Eleanor Tinsley Park to NRG Park. Some attempted to sell their tickets online just days before the festival.

“I think Free Press actually did pretty well adapting to the new venue,” said Collin Worth, 21. “The stages were spaced well, there were enough vendors and places to get drinks… I don’t really think the move to NRG park ended up being bad.”

On day 1, there were short rain showers, but the weather was not severe enough to warrant a festival closure. However, on day 2 around 6:20, Free Press released an announcement through all the speakers stating that the National Weather Service reported a severe thunderstorm, then proceeded to halt all music and evacuate attendees.

“People were going around yelling at and about the National Weather Service,” states Neena Lund, 18. “I’d say half of the people left for the stadium like they were told, but the other half stayed in the park and waited out the rain.”

At 7:30, the festival continued with an altered schedule.

Despite the wrenches that Houston weather may throw in Free Press’s plans, attendees continue to exhibit excitement and pride for the city’s music festival for years to come.

 

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