(not the ’80 picnic; thanks to Janis from Texas for sharing the picture.)
Dallas Times Herald
July 5, 1980
AUSTIN — More than 30,000 music fans wearing everything from bikinis to beer carton hats, jammed the rolling fairways of a Central Texan country club Saturday in 100-degree heat to hear the 8th and final Willie Nelson Fourth of July picnic.
And by mid-afternoon, six of the diehard fans had been transported to Brackenridge Hospital for heat-related ailments, said Candy Pruitt, a guard for Rangers Security System. The temperature rose to 98 by 4 p.m.
“I’ve been out in the heat all day, and I’ve been sweating, but it’s not as bad as it could have been,” said Bill Lane of the Bexar County Ambulance Co.
More than 100 medics were standing by to treat problems arising from the blazing sun, which has baked Texas for two weeks.
Fans covered several fairways of the Pedernales Country Club owned by Nelson, some making hats from emptied beer cartons, others bringing canopies or tents to get their relief from the relentless heatwave.
Some fans devised their own methods of beating the heat — dousing themselves with beer, sucking on ice cubes and lying beneath pickups.
In the early hours of the music extravaganza, some grumbling could be heard from the crowd when it was learned that the Charlie Daniels Band would not make its scheduled appearance, but no trouble was reported.
David Anderson, organizer of the picnic, said a plane carrying the Daniels band had landed in the wrong airport in Spicewood, Texas about 40 miles away, and would be unable to make the date because of a scheduled performance tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
At high noon, Nelson, sporting braided pigtails, appeared on stage to play an hour of his progressive country for the cheering, stomping crowd.
Promoters expected up to 60,000 people to attend the extravganza on the fairways at Nelson’s Pedernales Country Club, 27 miles west of here.
Several hours before the bash began, a long line of cars jammed the turnoff to the picnic site. State troopers told frustrated fans it would take two hours to reach the country club, just a few miles down the road.
“Willie’s or Bust,” was painted boldly across the rear window of a car bearing South Dakota license plates.
Stranted in the traffic for four hours, Chuck Michalik said his family from Austin had second thoughts about attending the affair.
“It’s the first concert I’ve been in,” said Michalick, who sported a safari like sun helmet. “I can understand why kids get mad and riot.”
Many fans paid up to $20.00 for the privilege of parking within a mile of the golf course. One man directing cars to an acre lot was charging $10.00 a car and expected to gross $10,000.
“The streamed in all last night,” said Medical Technician Thomas Dietz. Other than excessive alcoholic consumption, he said, there had been few medical problems, other than a possible drug overdose.
“There’s one guy in there saying people are trying to kill him,” said Dietz. “I think he’s tripping on acid.”
Nelson’s newest movie, “Honeysuckle Rose” with Dyan Cannon and Slim Pickins, premiered Friday night in Austin.
The picnics, which have become an annual summer event in Central Texas, are ending because Nelson says preparation for the country and western music get-togethers is a year-round task that has become too time consuming.