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Racing fans revved up for LakeFest

Loud and fast drag boats compete for points at the 2023 LakeFest in Marble Falls on June 10-11. Photo by William Brown

Highland Lakes tourists and residents alike are gearing up for two days of high-octane action at the 2023 LakeFest on June 10-11, when drag boat racers jet across Lake Marble Falls.

The event kicks off the Southern Drag Boat Association’s 2023 season and promises to give spectators an adrenaline rush as the high-speed craft rocket past the shores of Lakeside Park, 305 Buena Vista Drive, traveling at top speeds of 250 mph. After tackling Lake Marble Falls, racers will travel statewide to other towns, including Paris and Waco, before finishing the season in San Angelo.


Fans can get an up-close look at the drag boats and meet racers and crews during a LakeFest show-and-shine event June 9 in Johnson Park in Marble Falls. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Prior to the competition, LakeFest fans are invited to a show-and-shine event from 4-7 p.m June 9 at Johnson Park, 230 Avenue J South, for a behind-the-scenes look at the boats and a chance to meet racers and crews. Musical act Hair Metal Giants will perform at the park’s amphitheater.


A range of ticket packages are available for LakeFest. Single-day admission is $30 for adults, $20 for ages 65 and older and military service members, $15 for ages 7-12, and free for ages 6 and younger.

A Lakeside Park beach seating package is $400 and includes 10 tickets. Guests are limited to one 10-foot-by-10-foot tent.

Top Eliminator Club VIP ticket packages cost $200 each ($60 for ages 7-12) and include special perks such as a catered breakfast and lunch, three drink tickets per day, a private bar, and a free adult T-shirt. VIP ticket holders watch the race from Lakeside Pavilion at the park.

No pets are allowed at the event. Coolers are also not permitted.

Tickets can be purchased online on the Marble Falls/Highland Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce website.


The first LakeFest was held in 1992 after resident Barry Burton proposed the idea for a drag boat race in Marble Falls to then-Blue Bonnet Cafe owner John Kemper. Four months later, Burton’s dream became a reality.

LakeFest is one of the largest and most profitable events held by the Marble Falls/Highland Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. From 1992 to 2001, the races grossed roughly $2.2 million with a net income of around $600,000 for the chamber, which donated about $75,000 to local nonprofits in that 10-year span.

Fans feared the event would be permanently canceled in 2018 after the chamber and the former sanctioning body of the races, Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series, could not reach an agreement. Following a two-year hiatus, the Southern Drag Boat Association took the reins, bringing the event back to Lake Marble Falls.

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