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Float Fest hires staff to clean San Marcos River

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Empty beer cans thrown July 5 alongside the San Marcos River.
Photo by: Chelsea Yohn | Staff Photographer
Empty beer cans thrown July 5 alongside the San Marcos River.

Float Fest’s correlation with litter around the San Marcos River has long received criticism from residents and organizations and continues to as this year’s event approaches.

The Martindale-based music festival is publicizing its increased efforts to keep the San Marcos river clean during and after this year’s upcoming festival in an effort to continue for years to come.

Float Fest, an annual music festival held just outside San Marcos, was granted a permit for 20,000 attendees. Organizers took steps to address the local community by hiring a staff of 40 to clean the river during the festival, including workers from Don’s Fish Camp, Texas State Tubes and The Eyes of the San Marcos River group.

During the festival, attendees have the option of taking cans and other personal items with them as they float down the river. Ideally, any waste would be dropped at the designated sites. As past festivals have proven, not every attendee follows these rules, leading to leftover litter.

Hired to spearhead the cleanup is Zach Halfin, founder of the Eyes of the San Marcos River. This organization is self-described as a group of locals working to promote positive environmental stewardship through a peaceful presence, cooperation and raising awareness.

“Ideally, Float Fest will be hiring a bunch of people that have done this in the past for free. They can get paid for very similar work they’ve volunteered to do,” Halfin said. “I think that’s truly what makes something like this sustainable.”

Halfin and his team have implemented a greater set of precautions to keep the river clean this year. These preventive measures include prohibiting styrofoam and glass bottles, kayaking along the river in search of litter and creating a line of river cleaners at the end of the float site to stop any litter from flowing further downstream.

Marcus Federman, Float Fest founder, has kayaked in the river after each festival and said he believes it is clean every time.

“This year it is a more unified effort,” Federman said. “I think there’s been some sort of insinuations that Float Fest hasn’t done a good job of cleaning the river in the past and that’s just not true.”

Federman believes that cleaning the river is his obligation. Leading up to this year’s festival, he created a website dedicated to sharing more information about how the river will be cleaned during and after the festival, which is scheduled for July 21 and 22.

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