On Friday, tickets went on sale for the third annual Texas Tribune Festival — the earliest we've ever allowed people to reserve their spot at the public policy powwow of the year, what we've taken to referring to as an Austin City Limits Music Festival for political junkies. Over three days, from Sept. 27-29, we're expecting in the neighborhood of 150 speakers across eight tracks: public education, higher education, health care, transportation, criminal justice, immigration, energy and the environment. A ninth track will feature omnibus conversations with top state leaders. If you're looking to get your wonk on, there will be no better time or place than that weekend on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, our great venue partner yet again.
Also earlier than ever, we've announced about 40 of those 150 marquee names — everyone from Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to key committee chairs from the House and Senate; from the commissioners of education, higher ed, and health and human services to five of the state's members of Congress (for now; we're expecting more); from Bill Clinton's immigration commissioner to George W. Bush's Mexican ambassador to Barack Obama's 2012 field general. It's quite a star-studded lineup, and it's going to get starrier and studlier as the summer months progress. By game time, the very best team of bright minds and big brains will be on the field.
If you're thinking of going, now would be the time to register. Tickets will never be cheaper than they are for early birds: just $130 through July 18, versus escalating rates between now and the day of the festival of $160, $195 and $225. If you're a student, an educator or a Texas Tribune member, we can offer you an even cheaper, heavily discounted price; email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. And for an extra $50, you can add on a guided VIP walking tour (complete with breakfast) of locales like the State Cemetery, the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, the UT Tower and the Harry Ransom Center, where you'll get a special spin through the archive of Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate papers.
At the Trib we love all of our events equally, but we love the Tribune Festival most equally of all. It's really the very best distillation of our mission: a great big conversation about the priorities of the state, an invitation to get in a room with people of unlike mind and find common ground on the issues of the day, an opportunity to become more thoughtful and engaged and productive citizens.