Willie Nelson's annual 4th of July Picnic didn't go quite as planned this year due to heavy rains in Texas that lead the venue to be evacuated for several hours.
For the fourth year in a row, Nelson held his iconic American festival out at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. The venue's Austin360 Amphitheater had shady areas and a second stage set up, but both became useless once the storm rolled in.
As a Tweet from KVUE's Rebeca Trejo shows, dark clouds were approaching the venue quickly with heavy rains, lightning and 50 mph gusts of wind expected to rip through the Austin venue that's situated east of the city with no surrounding infrastructure for protection.
Around 2:30 p.m., only 3 hours after the gates had opened, an announcement was made over the loudspeaker telling festival attendees that they needed to evacuate the venue and wait out the storm in their cars or ask employees to help them find shelter.
Announcement over the loudspeakers tells people at Wllie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic to evacuate due to severe weather approaching. Performances are suspended. COTA says seek shelter in car or another safe place. Follow @austin360 for when performances will resume. @KVUE pic.twitter.com/xN6rFXn1gD
— Rebeca Trejo (@RebecaT_KVUE) July 4, 2018
Since many of those parked at the venue had a long walk to their cars in lots that would quickly become muddy, many felt the urge to head home. Those without vehicles were ushered into sheltered areas to wait out the weather.
View from the media trailers at COTA — steady, pretty heavy rain, clearly a good call to suspend #WilliePicnic. Everything in a holding pattern for now, with hopes of resumed activity if rain stops at some point. pic.twitter.com/qIZOVRuzbr
— Peter Blackstock (@Blackstock360) July 4, 2018
— Ariana Lipkin (@arianalipkin) July 4, 2018
Sadly, once country music fans were let back in at 5 p.m., they found that the second stage had been canceled and a few main stage acts had to miss their time slots. The Wild Feathers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Asleep at the Wheel, Jamestown Revival, Gene Watson and Johnny Bush unfortunately had to cancel their shows.
But there was still plenty of celebration left. Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real took on the main stage at 5:25 p.m., and Margo Price, The Head and the Heart, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Ryan Bingham, Sturgill Simpson and Willie Nelson himself still played incredible sets that will surely be etched into the memories of attendees due to the unconventional nature of the fest.
It continued to rain throughout the night, but not with the fury that it did before. Around 9:30 p.m., fireworks still went off at the Circuit of the Americas and in downtown Austin, proving that it takes a lot more than a stormy day to stop Austinites from celebrating.
— Austin360 Amp (@Austin360Amp) July 5, 2018