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30,000-plus people expected at eclipse festival near Burnet

Reveille Peak Ranch

Reveille Peak Ranch near Burnet will host tens of thousands of visitors during the Texas Eclipse festival from April 5-9. The festival’s promoters and Burnet County officials have been working together to ensure any negative impacts from the influx of people are limited. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Burnet County Sheriff’s Office is set to give final approval on Thursday, Feb. 29, of a mass gathering permit for the Texas Eclipse festival. More than 30,000 people are expected at Reveille Peak Ranch from April 5-9 to celebrate the upcoming total solar eclipse

The Highland Lakes is in the direct path of the April 8 celestial event.

A public hearing on the permit application was Tuesday, Feb. 27, during the regular meeting of the Burnet County Commissioners Court. Some residents were concerned about the festival’s potential impacts, some understood it was inevitable, and others questioned if county resources were being used to facilitate the private event.

“We’ve been working on this, with this group, for eight, 10 months,” said Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Alan Trevino during the hearing. “We feel that we have worked out any of the issues that we have seen in the (mass permit application) to our satisfaction. County expenses are not going to be incurred. (The festival) will be self-contained.”

According to Trevino, the Sheriff’s Office has spent months working with Texas Eclipse promoters to ensure planning is adequate for the estimated 30,000-40,000 attendees expected at Reveille Peak Ranch, a large recreational/working ranch off of RR 2341 near the eastern shore of Lake Buchanan.

The public hearing was mandatory under the county’s mass gathering permit policy, which requires the issuance of a permit from the Sheriff’s Office for events with more than 2,500 attendees.

Trevino told the Commissioners Court the permit would likely be issued by Thursday after the Texas Department of Transportation approved the festival’s traffic plan.

A 140-page site plan was delivered to the county with the mass gathering permit application. It included emergency medical protocols, traffic management plans, security protocols, and a slew of other documented procedures to handle the tide of festival-goers.

The plan had already been approved by Burnet County Emergency Management Coordinator Derek Marchio and Burnet Fire Chief Mark Ingram.

Trevino explained that the event would have about 370 private security personnel on staff and 14 certified off-duty peace officers directing traffic. 

Four residents spoke up during the public hearing. Mike Kammlah said the festival would put enormous strain on the roads near Reveille Peak Ranch.

Mike Kammlah
Burnet County resident Mike Kammlah spoke during a public hearing on the mass gathering permit for the Texas Eclipse festival. He expressed his concerns about the potential traffic issues that could be caused by the tens of thousands of visitors expected at Reveille Peak Ranch. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

“When you block the roads, 5,000 people can’t leave or come back,” he said, referring to his estimation of the number of residents that use the nearby roads. “They’re making money off the backs of those 5,000 people that live off of (RR) 2341.” spoke with festival founder Mitch Morales after the hearing to learn more about plans in place to mitigate the negative impact on nearby residents.

“It’s been super important to me to create a positive experience for everybody, not just the people coming from all over the world but also those that are dealing with all of the attention that the area is getting because of the total solar eclipse,” he said.

The festival will provide all essentials, including toilet paper and water, so attendees don’t have to leave Reveille Peak Ranch during their stay, Morales said. All check-ins and traffic will be staggered across the five days so vehicles aren’t coming or going all at once. No tickets were sold for Monday, April 8, the actual day of the eclipse, so festival-goers don’t contribute to the expected day traffic from the Austin metro area. Traffic leaving the festival on April 9 will be let out in waves to ensure school buses aren’t bogged down by outgoing vehicles.

Sheriff Calvin Boyd told he is confident in the festival’s plans.

“I’m not real worried about Reveille Peak once we get (the festival attendees) in there,” he said. “They have a really good plan. It’s going to be like a little city. I’m more worried about the day traffic and the overnight traffic that’s going to be coming in.”

Burnet County Tourism Director Blair Manning told in an October 2023 interview that the county could see 100,000 or more visitors based on similar circumstances during the 2017 total solar eclipse that passed over Wyoming.

Law enforcement agencies and emergency preparedness organizations across the Highland Lakes are in the midst of preparations for potential issues caused by the eclipse, like running out of essential resources, downed communications, and increased response times for emergency services due to heavy traffic.

Morales added that, while the festival has required an enormous amount of planning and preparation, it is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Part of the beauty of the eclipse is that it brings people together,” he said. “We’ll all be looking up at the same thing. Even if (eclipse totality is) just four-and-a-half minutes, we can all take a moment and just be humans together.”