Greetings from Austin, Texas! This is my very first trip to South by Southwest (or SXSW; or, if you’re one of the cool kids here, “South by”) and I have to say that it’s pretty amazing. The streets are packed with music and tech aficionados and no matter where you look there are live bands and lively conversation.
I rolled in on Wednesday night (well, technically Thursday morning) at half-past midnight and hopped in a taxi to go to my hotel and try to rest up before our very first ABRV event with horse racing’s new Brand Ambassadors. I have to say, Austin is completely beautiful; check out the Capitol Building as I drove past it on my late night/early morning venture through town on the way to the hotel.
I checked into my hotel and crawled straight into bed, eager for the day to get started. Thankfully, after a full day of work and travel I found it pretty easy to drift off, so when 7 a.m. rolled around I was up and alive with the spirit of SXSW. I hopped into the hotel’s shuttle to the Austin Convention Center and then boogied over to the Whole Foods on Lamar Blvd. Don’t worry, I’m not recounting a random grocery run to you – we were the sponsors of a really great concert on the roof of the store, which was so very cool. The shows were free, and there were five different bands playing. Other sponsors had provided complimentary beer and wine for the occasion, so the mood was festive and the crowd was at capacity.
I met up with three of the ABR Brand Ambassadors and Mary Frances, Chip, John and I got to work setting up our greeting table were we could tell concertgoers all about the awesomeness of horse racing. By the time we were done, the table looked pretty awesome if I do say so myself.
We had tons of information as well as a brand-new Kentucky Derby giveaway to tell people about, plus very cool giveaways like jockey goggles, hats, koozies and T-shirts. When it was finally time for the concerts to start the place was packed and there were tons of people who were super-curious about racing. It was so great to talk to so many different people, all of whom were excited to learn more about the horse racing experience (and excited to try to win that trip to the Kentucky Derby!) Check out the action around the table:
Not only was our table really popular but the bands were amazing, too. People were having a great time dancing in the beautiful Texas spring weather to some seriously good tunes.
Plus, even the musicians were getting into the spirit of the day, donning jockey goggles to play their sets.
Between acts, our ambassadors got a chance to talk to the crowd about how great horse racing is. They got a ton of applause and sparked a bunch of interest in the attendees. Here’s Mary Frances Dale (below, top) and John Cox (below, bottom) talking to the crowd about why horse racing is the coolest sport ever:
Once the Saddle Up SXSW rooftop shindig was finished, we cleaned up and hopped into the car to head on over to meet up with the other three ambassadors at Auditorium Shores. That’s a huge, free concert venue that has an incredible lineup, and it’s where the brand-spanking-new ABRV was set up. If you haven’t seen it yet, behold its awesomeness.
Amazeballs, right? So how cool is it that this bus is parked at one of the most well-attended concert venues at SXSW; plus, it’s got the most amazing accessories! People who swing by can ride a fake racehorse (called an Equicizer):
Even the Miller Lite brand ambassadors stopped by to the horse a spin:
People could also ride a (fake) horse while wearing a horse mask. Horseception!
We also have one of those cool thingies where you can poke your face into a totally different picture. I love those! (But clearly not enough to learn what they’re called.) Regardless, people were having a blast with it.
Plus there were all sorts of other goodies to play with, like jockey goggles, koozies, stick horses and more. We also have videos of great races and great events playing on big screen TVs so people can learn more about what happens at the races. Even better, people who stopped by the ABRV got to talk with all of the ambassadors, including Hallie Hardy, Jose Contreras and Victoria Garofalo, who had been running the show while the rest of us were at Saddle Up SXSW.
As the sun went down and the bands wrapped up, we even managed to squeeze in a little horsing around. (Sorry!)
That’s is for my very first SXSW adventure; thanks for stopping by and I’ll have lots more to share tomorrow!