Old Settler’s Music Festival Postpones to 2025 in Move to Sell Property

“This festival isn’t going anywhere; it’s just going to take a new form”

Shinyribs at Old Settler's Music Festival in 2019 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Old Settler’s Music Festival has announced plans to sell its land in Dale, Texas, and cancel the 2024 edition of the event. The festival plans to return in 2025.

A statement on the festival’s website called the 145-acre homestead at 1616 FM 3158 – about an hour outside Austin, near Lockhart – “much larger than we need.” In an interview with the Chronicle, Executive Director Talia Bryce added that the event utilized less than half of the space, prompting the search for land easier to maintain. Link Realty posted the festival’s current ranch on the market in mid-October.

Listings ask $2 million for the estate, which also features a 1,636-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

Since its inaugural 1987 event in Round Rock, Old Settler’s has faced a series of setting changes. The roots music festival later held outings in Dripping Springs before settling in Driftwood in 2002, where fans grew accustomed to camping at Camp Ben McCullough and heading to the nearby Salt Lick Pavilion for music. The nonprofit was forced to end their tenure at the property in 2017, a year earlier than expected.

Soon after, two lead organizers began promoting their own Driftwood Music Festival on the grounds, which was later blocked by a lawsuit. In 2018, a group of Old Settler’s original organizers including former director Jean Spivey moved the event to Dale. Director since 2022, Bryce cites these internal struggles and personnel changes as reasons for the current changes, also noting the realities of playing financial catch up after COVID-19.

“Different decisions were made at that point that made sense for the org and what they were going through at that time. Just because it made sense then, the world looks different now.” – Executive Director Talia Bryce

“Back when the Dale property was purchased [in] 2017, it was a different group than is currently in charge,” she says. “Different decisions were made at that point that made sense for the org and what they were going through at that time. Just because it made sense then, the world looks different now. Now we’re doing what makes sense for us in 2023.”

Though she’s interested in downsizing, Bryce is unsure of Old Settler’s next move. She’s open to forging a deal with a prospective property buyer to stay in the current spot or pursuing other locations. Finding camping-friendly acreage remains a priority. Despite the latest roadblock, Bryce points concerned fans to the festival’s long history for assurance that Old Settler’s will return in 2025.

“This festival is very mighty, very committed, very loving,” she says. “This festival isn’t going anywhere; it’s just going to take a new form. We’ve moved around and we’ve managed to keep it going, and [it] may look a little different, but the vibe is always still there.”

In the meantime, Bryce encourages Americana fans to check out the upcoming Eclipse Utopia and Kerrville Folk festivals – two other spring events spotlighting folk, soul, hip-hop, and other genres at the heart of American culture.

“We all need to support each other,” the director says. “Independent music festivals are important and we want to keep them alive. We’re all friends and we all want to lift each other up.

“We appreciate everyone’s support. We just hope people can be patient with us and know that what we’re doing is everything we can to keep this thing going.”

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Old Settler's Music Festival, Talia Bryce, Jean Spivey, Driftwood Music Festival

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