Happenings: MR Fest 2012

MR Fest takes the local stage
with Texas State’s KTSW 89.9

By Catherine Harper

Every year in April, the San Marcos Square comes alive with the sound of jangling guitars, frantic drumbeats and the shouts of frenzied fans. My Radio Fest — also known as MR Fest — takes the stage once again April 26-28.

MR Fest, a 3-day music, comedy and arts festival now in its fifth year, is sponsored by KTSW 89.9, Texas State’s “Other Side of Radio” station. With 14 venues, 98 artists, a market place and an artist’s village, this year’s MR Fest promises to be bigger than ever before.

Featuring free showcases of up-and-coming talent, MR Fest caters to a wide variety of audiences in San Marcos. As the first year with rap and comedy acts, the 2012 event will extend to a broader audience.

Having started in 2008, My Radio Fest took the acronym “MR Fest” the next year as the crowds began to expand. Breaking 1,000 people in 2010 and seeing record crowds in 2011, the events keep getting bigger with the help of the KTSW crew.

According to Daniel Hughes, communications studies senior and promotions director of KTSW, the event has evolved into a unique community affair.

“It started out as a really cool idea and something that wasn’t going on in San Marcos that much,” Hughes says. “It evolved with people who saw some opportunity to put their mark on it and grow it. I think that because it’s not just one person doing it every year, it doesn’t have the same feel to it — but it does have the feel of MR Fest.”

KTSW will host some of the acts to be featured at this year’s MR Fest, including headliners White Denim and Quiet Company, the latter having recently won 10 Austin Music Awards at the 2012 South by Southwest Festival. Another high-profile act is comedian Ramin Nazir, who recently performed on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. According to Hughes, the artists they pick represent the station as a whole.

“We have various types of music that we play on KTSW,” Hughes says. “We try to represent that through quality artists, which we have all over the place here. We also try to pick up-and-coming artists, and Austin is a great place to pick from. It’s very accessible.”

With Riverfest — another live music festival hosted by Texas State’s Student Association for Campus Activities (SACA) — coinciding on the first Thursday of MR Fest, the festival hopes to entice those who attend Riverfest to continue their musical explorations all weekend long.

“We’re trying to keep radio going,” Hughes says. “We want to give people who wouldn’t normally listen to bands like The Sour Notes or Those Nights the opportunity to see how amazing these bands are and that they’re right under your nose.”

While at the festival, students can enter to win prizes and giveaways. The main prize, the VIP Lounge Giveaway — sponsored by Vivogig — features a party bus for one person and 10 friends. Students can also enter to win prizes including free T-shirts, concert tickets, autographed CDs and more by collecting KTSW QR codes — which are hot pink and located around campus — and bringing them to the San Marcos Courthouse during the festival.

According to Hughes, the success of Austin festivals such as South by Southwest and Austin City Limits has largely influenced the KTSW crew to keep the festival ongoing in San Marcos.

“I look at SXSW and ACL and they really do influence the Austin economy a lot,” Hughes says. “With a town of 54,000 people and many of those people being students, I feel like this could really have an impact on San Marcos as it grows. I think as we get more people involved, they take it in and are ready for it to come around.”

In the future, Hughes says there’s a chance MR Fest could turn into the biggest annual event in San Marcos. However, he says quality is of the utmost importance.

“I think MR Fest is taking on the image of San Marcos with our work with local business owners and students,” Hughes says. “Every year it gets bigger and more people get involved with it. Even so, we’re trying to put on a quality festival.”

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