Prairie Fest is perhaps the most unusual fête that Fort Worth has ever seen. What started in 2006 as a small, casual, green celebration among a few tree huggers at an overlooked park in East Fort Worth has since snowballed into a big and bold festival completely unique in its way.
The threat of natural gas drilling near Tandy Hills Natural Area sparked that first festival in 2006. Don Young lives across the street from the park and invited people to congregate in his front yard and vow to fight the intrusion of drillers. He drew a small but enthusiastic crowd, and a seed was planted.
Fighting against the energy industry, however, put him at odds with a city staff eager to see drillers dip into the untapped wealth lying underneath parks and urban neighborhoods.
Young increased efforts to diminish drilling’s impact, and in just a few short years the festival became the largest independently produced green fest in North Texas.
City staff and Young have clashed often since then, but they’ve also sought common ground and established a somewhat more cooperative relationship. This year, festival organizers have officially partnered with the city of Fort Worth, and, for one day a year at least, everyone plays nice.
Live bands perform for free on a stage that’s 100 percent solar powered. Only electric vehicles and pedicab shuttles are used on the festival site. Visitors can accompany plant experts on organized tours of Tandy Hills Park, with its vivid array of wildflowers that are currently in bloom.
“The wildflowers in bloom are one of the main reasons we hold the festival this time of year,” Young said.
Informative booths are sprinkled among the more than 100 vendors.
“We have possibly the largest and most diverse group of environmental and social justice groups ever assembled in one place in Fort Worth,” he said.
More than 4,000 people attended last year’s festival, and more are expected this year.
Profits go to city parks.
Prairie Fest is 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at 3400 View St. at Tandy Hills Natural Area in East Fort Worth. Admission is free. Directions here.