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It's hot out at ACL, but you can get a beer fast; water even faster

AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Jay Janner

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AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Lines? What lines?

The addition of a second entrance gate at the three-day Austin City Limits Festival meant that ticket-holders took about 20 minutes to move through the front gate late Friday. Wristband wearers entered in about five minutes.

Beer, "30 seconds;" water "2 seconds," according to festival-goers.

Although Zilker Park sizzled, then turned gusty and dusty, most musicians, staff and fans shared a party mood, knowing they will escape a direct hit from Hurricane Rita, which almost scuttled part of event that continues today and Sunday. There also appeared to be more elbowroom than in the past because only 65,000 tickets or passes were sold for Friday, as opposed to 75,000 last year.

Andy Lack, an evacuee from Port O'Connor, said he got his VIP pass after meeting a couple of guys in a hotel bar Thursday night. On his way to Austin, he met two guys from New York who had been to the festival in years past and offered to show him around.

"Just true Austin hospitality," he said.

Jason George, one of the New York hosts, said the festival was going "just perfect."

"Weather's great. No lines. We're having a great time," he said.

But the heat was punishing early in the day, similar to last year's event.

As of 3:30 p.m., four people had been transported to local hospitals, according to emergency medical staff. The transfers involved one cardiac arrest, one seizure and two heat-related patients, they said. At that time, 67 patients had been seen overall, said Tannifer Ayres of the South West Emergency Action Team, which was handling the medical emergencies.

The majority of patients treated suffered from heat-related ailments. Ayres recommends that concert-goers bring their asthma inhalers and eye lubricant and glasses to protect their eyes from dust being kicked up by the wind. People should plan to drink lots of water, and dress appropriately, she added.

Despite fears that Hurricane Rita would hamper ambulance service, Ayres said there has been at least one parked nearby waiting to transport patients.

Festival organizers said 100 children had been tagged, meaning they were given identification wristbands so that they could easily find their parents. One child who was lost was quickly found.

As of 5 p.m., no arrests had been made.

lheinauer@statesman.com