Photos provided by author, Tammy Perez, Erika Rich and Jack Plunkett.
Last weekend, during its sixth season, the ATX Television Festival continued its tradition of hosting a memorable Friday night outdoor TV screening and party in the parking lot of the Hotel San Jose. My own first introduction to the unique magic of this festival was at just such an event four years ago, at a tailgate party for Friday Night Lights, where Louanne Stephens, aka Grandma Saracen, gave me an autographed 4x6 photograph of herself and Matt from her personal collection. I learned that all of ATX TV Fest feels like Treat Yo'Self Day, and this time the crew took a lesson from Entertainment 720, welcoming non-badgeholders and Eagletonians alike to gather on blankets, listen to live music, hug miniature horses, chat with real park rangers and enjoy food and drinks from Jo's Coffee.
In contrast to the high energy, rock-n-roll fueled Friday Night Lights tailgates of years past, Pawnee Austin was much more mellow. Although Mouse Rat couldn't make it, saxophone solos channeled Duke Silver, and Jazz Mills & Stephanie Hunt, Dr. Joe and Trent Langley provided a funky and cool background that perfectly complemented important fan conversations about April and Andy's epic love, adventures at the Snakehole Lounge, and Jerry's fart attack.
Friends and lovers posed on an adorable recreation of Ben and Leslie's bench at a Smallest Park in Texas photo booth. Minis & Friends brought their herd of glossy-maned, very sweet-tempered miniature horses to share for photos, introducing us not only to Li'l Sebastian (who is in fact NOT DEAD!!!!!), but also to Emily, Jooney Belle and Fiona. A reliable source told me that Councilman Jamm was around, too.
At nightfall, as the first screening began, it started to sprinkle, and even though we weren't sure if the weather would take a turn for the worse, no one left. The festival gods that always bless the ATX Television Festival kept any further rain at bay, Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa didn't ruin anyone's good time with heckling, and to my knowledge no one fell in the pit. Even though half my troop of Pawnee Goddesses had fallen victim to the Pawnee flu outbreak and were unable to attend, those of us who made it with our families had a blast. Next year let's have a corn maze!