(Virtual) Festival Season

Anthony Fauci and Hillary Clinton lead all-stars at Texas' biggest political festival

Anthony Fauci, Hillary Clinton lead all-stars at Texas political fest

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton will join this year's festival. Hillary Clinton/Facebook

Texas' biggest political festival has unveiled its 2020 lineup, and it's once again filled with political power players and big-name policy makers. 

Granted, the Texas Tribune Festival will (like everything) look different this year, and for its 10th anniversary, the fest is trading the traditional weekend-long format in downtown Austin for 30 days of special virtual programing.

The events, notes an August 11 release, will be a mix of both live and streaming sessions running from September 1-30. Over the course of the month, Trib Fest says it will welcome 250 speakers and host 100 different sessions on topics covering everything from the 2020 election and the coronavirus pandemic to marijuana reform and feminism. 

“For 30 days, all eyes in the political and policy world will be on The Texas Tribune Festival, which takes place within sight of the 2020 election,” said Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of The Texas Tribune, in the release. “We have an incredible lineup of speakers who will weigh in on today's biggest challenges and headlines — and make news of their own.”

Billed as "the strongest lineup yet," this year includes appearances by Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Gary Cohn, Eric Holder, Samantha Power, Arne Duncan, Robert Gates, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Cecile Richards, Dan Crenshaw, Julián Castro, Jon Meacham, Maggie Haberman, Robert Costa, Ashley Parker, and Willie Nelson.

Though the opening and closing speakers have to yet to be announced, expect headline-grabbing names (Biden's VP pick perhaps?). Among the keynote sessions that have been announced are:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci will speak with author, New Yorker staff writer, and Austinite Lawrence Wright on what we’ve learned about the coronavirus, the reaction of the federal government compared with the states, when it's safe to reopen and the road ahead — September 2
  • Sen. Ted Cruz will be interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper on big tech, "cancel culture," and Cruz’s outlook on the 2020 and 2024 elections — September 18 
  • Gloria Steinem will talk to PBS NewsHour's Amna Nawaz about building a movement, the new movie about her life, and why every election year should be the Year of the Woman — September 10
  • Panels on why Latinx turnout matters in the upcoming election; how to reopen schools safely amid a pandemic; and a group discussion featuring the mayors of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio on how the state "comes back" from the COVID-19 crisis.

Special events are also slated for the month-long political extravaganza. Viewers can catch a live videotaping of the With Friends Like These podcast, which will feature the former Republicans who co-founded The Lincoln Project — George Conway, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson — in discussion with political writer Ana Marie Cox.

“The Texas Tribune Festival is a direct extension of The Texas Tribune’s greater mission to engage and educate the public on matters of politics, policy and current events,” said Jessica Weaver, director of events at The Texas Tribune. “We’re devoted to bringing more people into the conversation and by expanding the Festival to take place over the full month of September and taking it online, we’re doing just that.”

Like in years past, Trib Fest 2020 is a mix of free and paid events, but full access to the month-long event is $199. A full list of this year's programming, including pricing details, is available here.