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Austinites Attend ABC’s 96th Annual KiteFest
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Festival goers gather on the Zilker Park lawn for a day of kite flying, entertainment, and food at the ABC KiteFest Sunday, April 14. “It was super fun to watch people flying their kites and also fly my own,” Tucker said. “[KiteFest] is always a highlight of my year and I plan to return every year moving forward.”

Last Sunday afternoon, ABC hosted Austin’s 96th annual KiteFest in Zilker park, where Austinites were brought together to participate in family friendly activities, support local restaurants and business, and of course, fly kites. From 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Festival-goers were encouraged to visit the KidsClub Activity Center, Pet Zone, MossFest, the Mini Market, and the plentiful array of local vendors and food trucks, those of which included frozen and fresh lemonade and sweet tea, Korean corn dogs, JPs Pancake Company, Chi’lantro BBQ, and more. 

“This was my first time going to the kite festival,” senior Sienna Hamlin said. “I can’t believe I had not been before, and I regret not going in past years. I loved the Austin feel and community aspect of it. I will definitely be going back.”

KiteFest is something Austinites look forward to every spring, and although the event has grown in activities, size, and attendees, it continues to be a thrilling day activity for families and a tradition that brings people together. As Hamlin said, being able to observe thousands of colorful kites on a picnic blanket and connect with Austin residents through this shared experience is the true appeal of KiteFest and what makes it so highly anticipated each year. 

“My favorite kite I saw was one shaped like a shark,” Hamlin said. “It was really creative and interesting to watch fly.”

While most kites, like the shark Hamlin saw, were a standard size and shape, some kites stood out from the rest and were significantly larger and more unique. 

“I really liked the big green and black cobra,” senior Brick Tucker said. “It was really long. Seeing the glorious 98 foot tail billowing in the wind truly was a sight to behold.”

Although kites were every which way over Zilker, some were easier to spot than others, noted by Tucker. Many of the bigger kites, such as the cobra, stole the show, and were entered into contests such as “Largest Kite,” where kites as large as a house were instructed to fly for one minute, and “Most Unusual Kite,” where judges awarded kites based on theme, construction, and design. Observers surrounded the Contest Field in a large circle for each competition and could get a closer look at extravagant, contest-winning kites. 

For kite flyers who are more serious about the activity, these free annual contests lasted the entirety of the festival, for people of all ages and all kinds of kites. Contestants registered Sunday morning and competed in various categories which included the 50 Yard Dash, Highest Angle Kite, Steadiest Kite, Best Kite Pilot, Smallest and Largest Kite, Most Unusual Kite, and Oldest and Youngest Kite Fliers. 

Aside from the main kite-flying activities, KiteFest had a designated area for festival goers to have fun with their pets. The Pet Zone was an off leash pet playground with jumps, runs, tunnels, and more. The KidsClub Activity Center was another part of KiteFest this year. There were free bounce houses, face painting, trampolines, and more that offered an exciting experience for younger attendees.

MossFest, a children’s concert, also returned to Zilker. The lineup featured performances from local musicians: Barton Hills Choir, Justin Roberts, DiscoTex, and Mr. Will. MossFest was created in honor of John “Moss” Pieratt, Jr. ‘s love for music before he passed away, who also inspired the Moss Pieratt foundation’s goals to research and promote awareness regarding the sudden unexplained death of children.

Another aspect of KiteFest, making its debut appearance, was the Mini Market. This year, ABC KiteFest partnered with Mini Market, a pop-up market that featured 10 local women-owned small businesses. 

With many activities and partnerships, KiteFest 2024 brought in thousands of festival goers. Inclusive spaces like MossFest and Pet Zone along with Austin based vendors is what makes the festival unique to Austin and highly attended each year, hopefully for many more years to come.

“The kite festival was very welcoming and family friendly,” Hamlin said. “There was such a wholesome vibe to it, and everyone was just having fun together.” 

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