Buda says bye to 2019 Budafest

Silver and gold will be replaced with reflective orange in Buda this holiday season.

Interference caused by impending construction on Main Street forced Buda city leaders Tuesday to pull the plug on Budafest celebration for 2019. That move was made via a 4-1 decision from the Buda City Council with council member Evan Ture dissenting.

City leaders and officials now hope the 16-plus month delay leads to a bigger and brighter 40th Budafest in 2020.

Lysa Gonzalez, Buda tourism director, said staff recommended cancelling Budafest due to the amount of construction that will be taking place around downtown during the first week of December, which is time the event is usually held. 

Work includes fixes on north Main Street from Cabela’s Drive to Railroad Street, which should be completed by June 2020, as well as improvements to the Main Street and FM 967 intersection. Buda is also in the midst of improving City Park, which will not be completed until spring 2020.

In April, Buda’s Tourism Department and city staff began the search for alternative sites for the festival. Some potential sites included Stagecoach Park, areas near Cabela’s, Buda Elementary, Buda Mill and Grain, and Sportsplex Park. Factors considered by city staff included the visibility of those sites, whether they could handle the logistics of the annual Budafest parade and the potential cost of it all.

Gonzalez said none of the alternative sites met the festival’s needs. Stagecoach, Cabela’s and Buda Elementary were too small and had too many logistical challenges for the parade.

While the Buda Sportsplex was the best of the options, Gonzalez said utility work and a lack of visibility eliminated it from the list.

Officials were also unsure the one ingress and egress point to Sportsplex could allow the parade to happen.

Hosting an event without the parade, however, wasn’t an option for Gonzalez and city staff, who deemed it a “keystone” of the festival.

“It brings in a majority of the people (to Budafest),” Gonzalez said. “I’m not sure if we will see as big of an impact.”

Ture advocated for hosting a scaled-down version of Budafest in order to keep momentum going from year-to-year. Ture said doing something was “better than cancelling.”

Mayor George Haehn, Mayor Pro-Tem Wiley Hopkins, as well as council members Lee Urbanovsky and Remy Fallon, felt cancelling the event was necessary, despite not wanting to cancel it.

Urbanovsky worried a smaller-scale Budafest might not be up to community standards and could lead to patrons not returning in the future.

Gonzalez said there could be a loss of momentum, but city leaders also didn’t want to put on a bad event and “have a bad reputation.” Instead, city officials expect to roll any funds allocated for the 2019 Budafest to next year and host the event at the newly renovated City Park.

Fallon, a downtown business owner, said she would hate to see Budafest leave the downtown sector. She also felt weather postponements in the past didn’t keep residents from coming out to Budafest the next year.

“I don’t want to do something that’s ‘half-butt,’” Fallon said.

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