Prairie Fest — Fort Worth’s only large outdoor festival that isn’t a city-sponsored event or paid for by corporations — has gotten too big for its britches.
What began seven years ago as a small celebration of the great outdoors at Tandy Hills Natural Area blossomed into a daylong event that drew 150 vendors, a dozen live bands, and more than 5,000 visitors last year.
The event had become overwhelming to the hearty group of volunteers that tried to organize it every year. Lining up vendors, sponsors, music acts, stages, nature tours, and everything else was becoming a massive undertaking.
Besides, the city of Fort Worth kept demanding more and more police officers to be hired as security guards — eight at last count, at $35 an hour each, festival founder Don Young said.
Young is trying something new this year — he’s hosting three smaller festivals on the last Saturday of March, April and May and calling it Prairie FestX3.
“Instead of a 10-hour festival, it’s four hours approximately,” he said. “We got rid of all the commercial vendors except for food and beer. It was a huge operation to manage.”
He expects the new events to draw closer to 500 visitors each.
“We decided to get back to our roots and just get people to come out and enjoy nature for a few hours, and the music and food,” he said. “And by having three festivals we don’t have to worry as much about the weird Texas weather. If we get rained out this weekend, we’ve got April.”
Musical acts this Saturday are Matthew Broyles, Barbara Taylor, Trinity Dogs, and Ginny Mac, performing on a stage that is 100 percent solar powered.
There will also be discovery hikes for kids and families.
Tandy Hills is at 3400 View St. east of downtown Fort Worth and just south of Interstate 30 near Beach Street.