The 2023 LakeFest drag-boat races on Lake Marble Falls are planned for June 10-11. Photo by William Brown
Marble Falls LakeFest on June 10-11 kicks off the Southern Drag Boat Association’s 2023 season. The event takes place on Lake Marble Falls at Lakeside Park and is hosted by the Marble Falls/Highland Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.
Races are also scheduled in San Angelo, Waco, and Paris, Texas, as the summer-long campaign progresses.
Fans can purchase LakeFest tickets — when available — on the chamber’s website. A free Show and Shine event, during which people can meet drivers and crews and see the boats, typically precedes the races on the Friday before in Johnson Park. Details for this year’s Show and Shine have yet to be announced.
Historically held in August, LakeFest organizers moved the 2022 event to May to avoid late-summer winds, which have caused a litany of issues for racers, including the cancellation and delay of several events in 2021.
The 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic.
In 1992, Barry Burton proposed the idea for a drag-boat race in Marble Falls to then-Blue Bonnet Cafe owner John Kemper. Four months later, that proposal became a reality.
From 1992 to 2001, LakeFest grossed about $2.2 million with a net income of around $600,000 for the chamber, which donated roughly $75,000 to local nonprofits in that 10-year span.
In 2018, fans feared the beloved event would be permanently canceled after the chamber failed to reach an agreement with the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series. After a two-year hiatus, the Southern Drag Boat Association took over as sanctioning body for LakeFest.