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Llano launches Drought Fest in place of canceled Rock’n Riverfest

Llano County Courthouse for Fourth of July

American flags adorn the grounds of the Llano County Courthouse in preparation for an Independence Day celebration on July 1-4 in the city of Llano. Drought Fest was planned after the difficult decision to cancel the annual Rock’n Riverfest due to drought conditions. Courtesy photo

A joint force of the city of Llano, the Llano Chamber of Commerce, and the Rock’n Riverfest Committee have whipped up a community-wide Independence Day celebration. The Llano Dam Drought Fest takes place July 1, 2, and 4.

The event replaces the annual Rock’n Riverfest personal watercraft races held every Fourth of July on the Llano River, which were canceled June 9 due to drought conditions. The city determined it would be unsafe to allow personal watercraft to operate on the Badu Park lake with low water. 

Llano County has seen historic drought conditions in the month of June, the driest one in recorded history, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.

Rock’n Riverfest is not only a fun event, it has a significant economic impact on Llano businesses, provides a venue for national personal watercraft competitors, and brings in numerous vendors. So the event’s organizers resolved to hold a celebration in spite of the cancellation.

Festivities begin on Friday, July 1, at 11:30 a.m. with a live reading of the Declaration of Independence by Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham on the grounds of the historic courthouse, 801 Ford St. in Llano. Free hot dogs for those in attendance will be served after the reading.

Llano Journey Fellowship worship leader Brandy Sanderson will kick off activities on Saturday, July 2, at 9 a.m. sharp with the National Anthem. From 9 a.m.-1 p.m. that day, events include a children’s parade, a pet parade, a classic car show, and an all-American market on the courthouse square.

On Monday, July 4, a kayak and “anything that floats” parade takes place at 7 p.m. at Badu Park, 300 Legion Drive. No motorized watercraft are allowed. At dark, the Llano Volunteer Fire Department will set off fireworks, weather and drought conditions permitting.

“(Drought Fest is) about still being able to celebrate our country’s independence and the city of Llano,” said Tony Guidroz, the director of Community Development for the city of Llano. “I think this really shows the spirit of the people of the city of Llano.”