The Old Settler’s Music Festival has filed suit against the Driftwood Music Festival, seeking injunctions and a restraining order against the new event tentatively set to compete with Old Settler’s in mid-April.
It’s the latest development in a conflict that arose this summer after the 30-year-old Old Settler’s Fest announced plans to move to Lockhart. Longtime Old Settler’s producers Scott Marshall and Ryan Brittain created the Driftwood Music Festival LLC in July after the Old Settler’s board of directors informed them that Old Settler’s had purchased land in Lockhart.
The lawsuit seeks both nonmonetary and monetary relief; a specific monetary figure isn’t cited. The suit alleges that on Sept. 6 Driftwood Music Festival sent an email to the Old Settler’s Music Festival volunteer list saying that the festival was staying in Driftwood, “just under a new name.” According to the suit, the email also stated, “Driftwood Music Festival is not something that is new, rather a continuation of the party that started over 17 years ago.”
The Old Settler’s Music Festival began in Round Rock in 1987. After a brief relocation to Dripping Springs, the festival moved to the Salt Lick Pavilion and Camp Ben McCulloch in Driftwood in 2002.
Speaking in late September, Marshall and Brittain claimed that the Old Settler’s board and executive director had misled them about the planned move to Lockhart. “They denied that they were looking for land or had purchased land, when in fact in one of the meetings, they had already purchased land, and blatantly told us they were not,” Brittain said.
In announcing the move to Lockhart in August, Old Settler’s claimed they’d wanted to stay at the Salt Lick for one more year before moving to Lockhart in 2019. Marshall, who says the location rental was made on a handshake basis one year at a time between him and Salt Lick owner Scott Roberts, disputes this. “They never rented the Salt Lick for next year,” he said.
The lawsuit also alleges breach of contract against Marshall, claiming that as part of his contract with Old Settler’s, “Marshall was to return all physical property and confidential information to Old Settler’s Music Festival upon termination of that contract.” Marshall resigned his position in August, a few weeks after he and Brittain had formed Driftwood Music Festival LLC.
In late September, Marshall disputed allegations that his contract with Old Settler’s disallowed him to work on other festivals. “I signed a contractor’s agreement to produce the show,” he said. “I can work on lots of houses, lots of projects, lots of festivals” outside of Old Settler’s, he claimed.
Beyond the legal ramifications of the suit, which was filed in Travis County state District Court on Friday and amended Tuesday, Marshall and Brittain said in September that they expected many Old Settler’s volunteers and subcontractors to work at the Driftwood Fest.
“I have a very good understanding that a large part of the volunteers and teams will be coming to join us, because those are the relationships we nourish,” Brittain said. “We work direct with them during setup and throughout the festival; we’re the ones who are working face-to-face with them.”
He acknowledged the difficulty of making both workers and festivalgoers choose between the two festivals. “Almost everybody we’ve spoken to, as far as the team and the volunteers, wants to do both events,” Brittain said.
If both events were to fall in the presently scheduled window of April 19-22, “I think it would be a detriment to both festivals, for sure,” Brittain said. “The main thing is, we’re just carrying on with what we’ve always done in the same place with the same people.”