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You Can Fight City Hall, but Don’t Mess With the Junior League

Formula Fest has crashed for the time being. 

Organizers hoped a planned two-day concert would draw 50,000 people to Auditorium Shores in celebration of Austin's inaugural U.S. Grand Prix race in November. In recent weeks, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and additional City Council members had sponsored a resolution to allow the event on Nov. 16-18. 

But a red flag went up today from Austin’s Junior League, a group of more than 2,000 women who dedicate time to charitable causes. Rather than go head-on with the League, City Hall decided to nix the Formula Fest proposal, and pull it from this Thursday's council agenda.

The Junior League’s objection? A conflict with its annual charity event, a popular holiday craft show called A Christmas Affair.  The event has run for 36 straight years, all but one year at the Palmer Events Center, located next to Auditorium Shores.   

League Public Relations Chair Liz Fazio says concerns about traffic, safety, and  congestion led to the League’s opposition to Formula Fest. “We were very concerned with the resolution, that people wouldn’t travel to the show because they would fear the crowds,” Fazio tells KUT. 

Last year’s Christmas Affair brought more than 30,000 attendees, purchasing mostly hand-crafted holiday items from 200 merchants.   Fazio says the event raised $750,000, which went entirely to local community nonprofit efforts.

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