March 13
72nd Zilker Park Kite Festival

Austin is awesome!

Susie and I have just returned from a delightful weekend in Texas as guests of the 72nd annual Zilker Park Kite Festival. Imagine that! Seventy-two years!! I mean, this event is as old as Ray Bethel...

For all of these years, the Exchange Club of Austin has been celebrating children, families, and the arrival of Spring to Central Texas with a gathering that has changed remarkably little. Back in 1929, the contests included largest, smallest, most unusual, and strongest puller. And although the styles have changed, today those same contests are held and judged by the same rules.

The crowds are fantastic. I'm looking around and seeing families that have obviously been coming for years. Some of those groups are three generations deep. And everyone seems to be having fun.

Zilker Park

Kids line up and make kites from instructors who learned the process by going through the line themselves years before. Check out these proud trophy winners.

Kite Champion Kite Champion Kite Champion

People are what make an event great. And here are a few of the great people we saw in Austin.

Eddie Zihlman and the Austin End of the Line Team put on several great shows. Some of the team family came even though they had been in a serious car accident the day before. That's dedication! And Eddie's wife, Pat who wasn't feeling well, joined us anyway. "If she can't move, we'll use her as an anchor" I offered.

 Eddie Zihlman

Charlie Huckabee brought out a ton of banners and some fine new kites. These two Rainbow Cheshire Cats looked like prize winners to me. The Huckabees are expecting their first new kiteflier in May so Janis took it easy in the cabana.

Charles Huckabee

Here's Dick Bell holding up one of the boundary markers. Dick and Gail brought the family out for the event. It seemed like every time I turned around, their son was waving at me...

Dick Bell

Richard and Marti Dermer made the trek from Tulsa. We hear they averaged 90 mph on the open highway. The Dermers spent most of the day in the AKA tent pushing memberships, but still found time to air out a few kites.

Richard Dermer

Stephanie Wise wins the prize for the most non-traditional Texas hat. Purple velvet. Yee-Haw!

Rumor has it that Steph's partner, Kelly Reed will be back in town next month.

Stephanie Wise

Charlie Cullen spent the better part of the day flying the Trilobite and Octopus with us. Winds constantly swirled around the field so we had plenty of chances to practice our launches. He even hung around to help stuff things in the bag at the end of the day.

Charlie and Susie

Chris Boyer picked up a new SkyFoil Lifter. Look at that big smile. Next time his car gets stuck in the sand at South Padre, he'll have something to pull it out with.

Chris Boyer

Richard and Marian Robertson brought all the grandkids out to the park and all of their kites too. I'm sure they did the same thing with their own kids as well. The Roberts are long time AKA members and Zilker supporters.

Richard Roberts

Octopus

We flew our giant octopus and the crowd of about 6000 cheered whenever it went into the air. That was quite a bit since the shifting winds meant the kite was up and down all day.

Octopus aficionados will want to look closely at this picture to see out "split bridle" technique to increase stability and minimize wandering.

Susie and I had a wonderful time basking in the best of Texas hospitality. We want to thank Bunnie and Dorsey Twidwell, and all of the Exchange Club members for hosting us, and more importantly for hosting the longest continuous running kite event in the country.

If anyone has doubts about the resiliency of kite festivals or the enthusiasm of people that attend them, they need to come down here and see how good, and how long a festival can go. Put it on your calendar -- the second Sunday in March -- for next year, or the year after, or the year after that....

Bunnie and Dorsey


*Back to the Update Index

*Back to Gomberg Kite Productions International