The Good Life in Austin Texas


Austin's Annual Ziker Park Kite Festival- Still Keeping It Weird!

Zilker Kite FestivalSunday March 14, 2010 marked Austin's  Annual Zilker Kite Festival!

The annual contest held at Zilker Park  is one of a number of  Austin events that helps keep Austin Weird and fun at the same time. The festival was originally founded in 1928 by The Exchange Club, a volunteer organization that raises funds to support non-profits that work to stop child abuse. For many years the Austin Parks & Recreation Department has joined with Exchange Club to co-sponsor the event at Zilker Park! The festival is free and open to the public, and is very popular with kite aficionados from the serious to the silly ;-) Today I attended with my wife strictly as a spectator to enjoy a picnic and watch the sky over Zilker Park filled with assorted kites of all types. As a fan from both sides of the spectrum, I have attended the festival many times and always had a great time.

Zilker Kite FestivalThis year there were literally hundreds of kites in the air at the same time with numerous contests covering a range of classes from smallest to largest to my personal favorite, "Most Interesting" This years winner in that category was a 93 year old gentleman whose kite "Puff the Magic Dragon" was the clear favorite! It has been quite awhile since I have entered any of the competitions and it was great seeing a guy still at it at 93 years of age. Heck even after my last bizarre experience as a competitor I may give it another try one of these days! I have previously posted about a special entry of mine at the festival in my blog and the story about my involvement as a "serious" participant is worth repeating here and should give you an idea of how wonderfully weird this event can be and another reason we are truly enjoying The Good Life In Austin Texas!!

From my post in March, 2009:

Zilker Kite FestivalA number of years ago when I was building furniture, I had access to all sorts of tools, materials and a wonderful facility where I could build just about anything that I could possibly dream up. One year I got a wild hair (the day before the contest) and decided to assemble an entry in the LARGEST KITE category. I had a design in mind for a huge octagon shaped kite covered with heavy 12mil plastic. Pestering my friend and partner, Tom Wood (cool name for an architect/furniture builder) into helping me, together we set about designing and putting the monster from scratch. Most of the day was spent gathering materials and the evening was devoted to constructing the framework from wood and PVC pipe and covering the structure with the plastic skin that we had painstakingly melded together. Of course, like all last minute ideas and projects, there were many things that had to be "rigged" and adjusted so the work went on well into the early morning hours. The ENTIRE time, my friend kept telling me, "It will never fly". I just ignored him because after all, I still needed his help. Around 3:00am we finished the kite, my friend went home and I decided to paint my creation. Digging through a closet of spray cans, I began splashing and spraying the kite with all manner of colors, symbols and primitive designs that would have made a DADA-Anarchist proud! The longer I worked, the more bizarre it became and by 8:00am I had done all the damage I figured possible and crashed for a nap in my office!

Zilker Kite Festival

Knowing that it would take a major effort to get the kite airborne and with safety in mind, we called a number of other friends to help launch and control the kite during its flight.About a dozen of our friends showed up to help and fortified with a cooler full of beverages and party favors as an enticement we made our way to Zilker Park. I need to mention here that Tom told each and every person on the crew that, "It will never fly". We spent most of the afternoon hanging out and watching the different kites, talking and laughing and generally enjoying the festive atmosphere! I don't have to remind you of this but about every 15-20 minutes, Tom would proclaim to anyone who would listen, "It will never fly..."

Toward the end of the afternoon, our event was announced and we assembled our kite, got in position and awaited the start. There were only six entries and it looked like we might have a chance IF we could launch our kite and keep it airborne for the ONE MINUTE time minimum.  

Winner-Puff the Magic DragonWe had fourteen people ready, two to hold the kite and a dozen people placed along the woven nylon line to help pull the kite along for enough time to get the thing up in the air. As the whistle blew, four of the contestants could not get up, crashed on takeoff or flew apart while the teams vainly attempted to make them fly! Down to us and one other team, we began pulling in unison running and screaming at each other to keep going and slowly our strange looking kite began to lift off. The coordination up to this point was perfect. What is important to remember is that it is crucial for everyone to release the line simultaneously so the kite can catch the wind and propel into the sky! As we were running along the kite gained altitude and I shouted for everyone to LET GO OF THE LINE! Everyone complied with the exception of, you guessed it...Tom, "Mister IT won't Fly"!Unfortunately, his position on the line was closest to the kite so he neither saw nor heard (or maybe ignored) everyone as they released the line. As the wind caught the kite, it began to pull up and twist violently pulling Tom up and down. We were all screaming at him to let go as the kite began to wildly careen up and around but he still held on. At that point the kite shot straight up and then plummeted into the earth, shattering the frame and collapsing in a huge pile of broken wooden limbs, pvc pipe and plastic shreds! All of us began yelling at Tom but he was completely nonplussed and said, "See, I told you it would not fly!" I don't know who said it first but one of our friends shouted, "DOGPILE" and we all jumped on Tom as the crowd watched in amusement breaking into applause, jeers, laughter! And that, friends was my last "serious" attempt at one of the contests!

Zilker Kite Festival 2010 Zilker Kite Festival 2010  Zilker Kite Festival 2010

If you were unable to make it today, make sure you don't miss it next year and if you have a chance just stop somewhere and pick up a kite! It's going to be breezy for the next few weeks and there is always room at Zilker Park for a few more! So get out and enjoy The Good Life In Austin Texas!

Russell M. LewisPage copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

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61 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • March 15 2010 07:36AM


Very cool, I have to say I have a couple stunt kites and don't get them out enough. Thanks for sharing.


Posted by Jay Schmitt (Prudential Bob Yost-Sites Homesale ) 13 days ago

Russell, what a great event and for a good cause...stopping child abuse.  Your entry sounded very cool indeed, so I guess you didn't win that they say try, try again....:)  A wonderful fun event for the entire family and jealous to hear that it was great weather for a picnic.. I love picnics.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot Lewisburg WV Realtor (Coldwell Banker Stuart & Watts Real Estate) 13 days ago

Hi Rusell, What a wonderful event! I really enjoyed your story about the kite and Tom LOL!  One of the things I love to do is fly kites, up here, the wind seems to have a mind of it's own and dumps them to the ground more than lifts them up!  Congrats on your entry I do believe it would have flown!

Posted by Mary Douglas, REALTOR ®, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado (United Country Ponderosa Realty) 13 days ago

Russell...what an awesome event!  I used to love kites, and I am always impressed to see them in the sky.  Thank you for sharing the event and photos!

Posted by Jim Crawford ~ Atlanta Real Estate-ABR E-PRO (RE/MAX Greater Atlanta) 13 days ago

Russell - LOL the lower torso kite is hilarious :) sheeesh.~Rita

Posted by Kenna Real Estate 13 days ago

Jay I have to say that I am impressed you have a couple of stunt kites and you would have thoroughly enjoyed todays show!


Rebecca It is a great cause and what is really good is that this is an issue that people in Austin have addressed even way back when it was often ignored or swept under the table. BTW my wife and i are big picnic fans and one of our favorite wedding gifts (23  1/2 years ago was a “Rolls Royce” of picnic baskets!


Mary I have een an avid fan of kites since childhood and this event is a hugely fin and weird time for everybody. I was so impressed with the 93 yr. old gut that I may come ot of retirement again and see what year ;-)

Jim Great seeing you here and i think that the kiye thing is something that just stays with us from childhood!


Rita We cracked up when we saw the “Garter Belt & Nylons” kite, I think it might have been an entry from one of the local lingerie stores! :-)

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 13 days ago

Hi Russell!
As always, you had me at "It will never fly"!  I can just envision the experience and I still have a smile on my face!  I have one question...please tell me that somewhere you have a photo of this kite...and shame on you if you don't !  I think I would really love Austin! Thanks for the fun!

Posted by Paula Swayne Realtor - Land Park, East Sac & Curtis Park Homes Specialist (Windermere Dunnigan Realtors, Sacramento (916) 425-9715) 13 days ago

Hi Russell:

I'm sure there were some INTERESTING types of kites.

I'm looking at the one in your photo of the bottom half of a person!!!

Posted by Toula Rosebrock -Broker/Sales Associate, Realtor, Lacey Township, Ocean County, (NJ, Diane Turton, Realtors, Forked River, NJ) 13 days ago

What fun, Russell!  I love kites...not good at flying them, but love to see them soaring.  Now get to work on next year's entry!

Posted by Lisa Heindel, New Orleans West Bank Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty Crescent City West Bank Partners) 13 days ago

Russell, What a fun event!  I remember having kites with our children when they were young and it was always fun!

Posted by Marchel Peterson Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro ABR (Results Realty) 13 days ago

LOL! I think I would have smacked that friend! Let's just say patience is not one of my strong suits >.<

Posted by Lisa Hill (Daytona Beach Real Estate) (Florida Property Experts) 13 days ago

Russell, kites are right up there with hot air balloons for making you feel like a kid again! Looks like everyone there was feeling a little younger!

Posted by Caren Wallace-Portage Lakes Real Estate Agent (Stouffer Realty, Akron, Ohio) 13 days ago

Russell, very cool----love the long "string" of kites in the second to last picture.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle, WA, Home Inspector (Charles Buell 13 days ago

Russell - what a fun event to watch or participate in. I loved your story! Another terrific Localism post for the Austin area.


Posted by Jeff Dowler ~ Carlsbad Real Estate ~ 760-840-1360 (RE/MAX Moonlight Beach (CA DRE Lic. # 01490977)) 13 days ago

Hi Paula I wish I had pictures and here is something VERY funny...The year this took place was 1979 and to tell the truth, I am sorta glad that we did not have as many cameras around back then! ;-)

Toula There were so many and the kite you are referring was actually a garter belt and Nylons :-O

Lisa I may attempt one next year but lately have just enjoyed laying back and spending a lazy time just watching!

Marchel I have also had a lifelong attraction to kites going back to when I was a child and my Dad helped me make one from dowels and newspaper!

Lisa That's funny because I am not the most patient either and in the end everyone dog-piled Tom and pretty much made him miserable for weeks after!

Caren I think you have it because something about kites brings out the kid in all of us.

Charles I also enjoyed the "train" kite and it was very interesting watching as it was fed into the air, one piece at a time. When they brought it down the did the same thing and place each piece, one at a time back into a box. Neat as a pin.

Jeff Thanks, like you I really enjoy posting Localism posts about all the interesting things to do in Austin. Thanks for dropping by!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 13 days ago

LMAO at the legs!!  It was windy here Sat and Sun so either day would have been FABULOUs for a kite festival!  Hope you had fun!

Posted by Renee Burrows - Las Vegas NV Valley - Homes For Sale - Real Estate Market News (The Force Realty -Realtor>Estate>Probate>REO>Short Sale) 13 days ago

Cool and weird! No wonder you call Austin your home! Two peas in a pod!

Posted by Craig Rutman North Carolina (Raleigh Area) Realtor (Home Buyer and Seller Specialist) 12 days ago

Oh Russell, you always seem to find time for all of the fun things around Austin! So, are you and Tom still speaking?

Posted by Allysoun Musslewhite (AvenueOne Properties, Inc.) 12 days ago

Russell - There are some really creative looking kites flying there.  I love the butterfly kite; but the one with the lower half of the body flying around is hilarious!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat (GreatWest GMAC Real Estate) 12 days ago

i looked for you! what a fun day. check out my kite fest photos on facebook!

Posted by carey Kelley 12 days ago

Love your title, Russell! They didn't have any kites like that when I was a kid.... Very cool!


Posted by Debi Boucher - "Realtor Showcase" Real Estate Slideshows/ Photographer (Memories DVDs - Realtor Showcase Slideshows) 12 days ago

Hi everyone, I just got in from a couple og blogging meetings here in Austin as part of SXSW and need to catch up on my real world work! Thanks for stopping by and I will get back here tomorrow to reply!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 12 days ago

Russell, as you wander about Austin taking in all of our fun and weird things to do, don't forget to line up a couple of spectacular restaurants to cater our next two "Architecture at the Umlauf events! Thanks ;-)

Posted by Scott Harvey (AvenueOne Properties) 12 days ago

great post, russell! so sorry i was sick and unable to go on sunday...looks so fun. and wonderful to see you at the food blogger bash. point me in the direction of your food blog!

Posted by the cosmic cowgirl 12 days ago

I think I remember that kite!  Those were the days!

Posted by Leslye 12 days ago

Is there a relationship between this story and high as a kite?  Maybe in '79!
Great post as always Russell.

Posted by Rell 12 days ago

Russell that is too funny!  Don't wait until your 93 to enter the contest again.   

Posted by Jennifer Carlisle with Prominent Title 12 days ago

Russell, you have such a great attitude and always enjoy life to the fullest. Thanks for sharing some of the best parts of Austin with the rest of us!

Posted by Lynne 12 days ago

Quite a few interesting kites in those pictures.

Come join the fun in ActiveRain's Guerrilla Marketing Team Contest.

Posted by Jim Frimmer, San Diego Mission Valley Realtor (Century 21 Award) 11 days ago

Renee  I pretty much always have fun and the legs were actually a garter belt and stockings, Maybe that was the entry from Victoria's Secret ;-)

Craig Ha Ha, you are so right and this twin is full of like minded people (you would really enjoy it here!

Allysoun Having fun is one of my favorite things to do and yes I still speak to Tom, we have way too much history and we still enjoy fun together!

Myrl  As I mentioned earlier the torso is actually a stockings and garter belt ;-)

Carey Wow, the crowd was huge and I checked your pictures, maybe you should take photos for my blog! Very nice!

Debi Every year I attend the kites het more imaginative!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 11 days ago

I am glad you and Mom had fun on your picnic and also that you did not get a "wild hair" and decide to build another kite the night before the contest this year ;-)

Posted by Mattie Lewis (AvenueOne Properties) 11 days ago

Hi Russell.........gosh I remember you posting about this festival last year.  Hard to believe a year has gone by soooooo quickly.  It does sound like a lot of fun, especially with the added flavor of a 93 year old gentleman in the competition.  Love the name of his entry too!  And the good've got decades to go before you need to really worry about your next entry ;-)


Posted by Gail MacMillan - CRS, e-PRO, GRI ~ Titusville FL Real Estate Brevard County (Home Sweet Home Florida Realty) 11 days ago

Morning Russell, Like you blog title, I have to say if it's weird I'm interested :) You surely have fun and live life to the fullest and you make it seem like Austin TX is THE place to live.

I loved reading how your persevered and kept going in the face words of pessimism from your buddy Mr. Tom It Will Never Fly Dogpile Wood. I personally liked the the flying undergarment balloon, cool!

Posted by Cynthia Bartch ~ Redesigned Spaces ~ Georgia Home Stager/Property Stylist (N. Atlanta, GA) 11 days ago

Great photos, Russell! Good for you for venturing back to the scene of last year's fiasco!



Posted by Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas 11 days ago

Your blog post reminds me of my kite flying days in Hilo.  You write from your heart with laughter in you voice. 

Posted by Sun City Grand Real Estate Surprise AZ Leolinda Bowers, Associate Broker, CRS (Ken Meade Realty) 11 days ago


Scott I should have both lined up by Friday ;-)


Stephanie Sorry you missed it and it was great seeing you at the food bloggers meting. I only have one post in my food blog but will add more in the next few weeks!


Leslye HA were around then and it was back a bit in time ;-)


Rell That’s funny and you could be right because a lot pf people in Austin back then probably were :-D


Jennifer Thanks and you are right I plan to make another appearance BEFORE I am 93...if I get that old :-P

Lynne Thank you, it;s one of the many things that makes Austin such a fun place to live!


Jim There were hundreds there and I have already checked out the contest!


Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 11 days ago

Mattie You know that you can never tell when I will get one of those “wild hairs”


Gail It is so great too see you back here and yes it has been a year! Wow! And yes it will probably be awhile before I actually do that again!


Cynthia HA are so right that we always seem to find ways to have a good time here! Actually Tom and I are still friends and truth be told we have had an ongoing history of “messing” with each other and I can say for sure that he paid for that deed many times over!


Robin I am drawn like a moth to the flame when it comes to all of the wonderful things we have to do to avoid work here in Austin, Texas!


Leolinda That is such a nice memory and thank you for the compliment!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 11 days ago

Russell's blog posts contain no Blarney
His photo looks so distinguished I wonder if he's wearing an Armani
Trying hard with all his might
He tries to fly his homemade kite
Not deterred by the unbelieving Mr. Tom Wood
Russell believes in his vision if only Mr. Tom could
But alas Mr. Tom got an ass whooping and is living with the Azerbaijani

Posted by Cynthia Bartch ~ Redesigned Spaces ~ Georgia Home Stager/Property Stylist (N. Atlanta, GA) 11 days ago

Hey Russell, you always write the most interesting blogs about stuff around Austin and also have some of the most interesting comments!

Laughing at Cynthia's limerick ;-)

Posted by Mike 10 days ago

Oh what a shame!  Dang that Tom fella!  Wouldn't a video of that time have been priceless?!

Posted by Georgina M. Hunter R(S) e-Pro Maui Real Estate Sales (Jim Sanders Realty Inc. - Maui) 10 days ago

Top of my future to do list is visit your town!  You make it sound so fun and your clients must have a blast working with you1

Posted by Susan Mangigian, West Chester PA Realtor RE/MAX Preferred, ABR (RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A) 10 days ago

OMG:  You are a good write about him without using more criticism.  You should try it again some day without Tom.

Posted by Jane Grant - Southwest Real Estate - Riverside County, CA 9 days ago

LOL  love the recap ! ...and great pics ! What a fun event !!

Posted by Sheldon Neal -- That British Agent -- (Bergen County, NJ - RE/MAX Real Estate Limited) 9 days ago

That is pretty cool Richard. We see a few kites in the park next to us, but nothing like this. Some kites are VERY creative.

Posted by John Cannata - LegacyTexas Mortgage Sr Loan Officer - Frisco Texas ( 972-325-4912 Also available evenings and weekends) 9 days ago

Good morning Russell,

What fun and a great event that does keep Austin weird! Love the story and "Dogpile" appropriate! Your photos really captured the fun spirit of the event..wonderful depiction of the Festival!

Posted by Dorie Dillard: Canyon Creek & NW Austin Living (Coldwell Banker United) 9 days ago

Good morning all, I appreciate everyone stopping by to leave comments! I'll be back later to reply, have a great day!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 9 days ago

Love love love your coverage of the kite festival! One of my favorite kites this year was a big pig, "when pigs fly" I just loved it! I think that this is one of the best things that Austin has to offer! WE are so lucky to live here.

Have a great weekend!

Posted by Kristy Owen, Realtor, GRI (Moreland Properties ) 8 days ago

Dear Russell,

 The lesson here is: 1 let Tom help make the kite and keep him away from the actual launch and 2. take some pictures before launch attempt. This sounds like a ton of fun!


Posted by Betina Foreman-Serving Lake Travis, Lake Austin and the greater Austin area! ((512)771-6318 Keller Williams Real Estate) 8 days ago

Hi Russell!!!   I will be "back" this week ... I promise to meet up with you in Austin soon, I would love to introduce you to Bryan (my hubby).   pippa

Posted by The Woodlands Texas Real Estate >>Spring Homes Pippa MAC (Remax Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring) 6 days ago

Great posting Russel. The kite festival is just one of the many wonderful things to do and see in Austin and why we love our community so much.

Posted by Robin Scott - Broker CRS ABR SRS Austin Texas REALTOR® (Robin Scott, REALTOR®) 6 days ago

Great posting Russel. The kite festival is just one of the many wonderful things to do and see in Austin and why we love our community so much.

Posted by Robin Scott - Broker CRS ABR SRS Austin Texas REALTOR® (Robin Scott, REALTOR®) 6 days ago

I haven't made it out to a kite festival yet! How do the lines not get all tangled? JM

Posted by The Dave Murray Team (Coldwell Banker United, Realtors) 4 days ago

Those kites are so colorful and gorgeous! What a fun day.

Posted by Deena Cottingham, Home Stager & Photographer (GreenApple Staging & Images, Calgary Staging & Photography) 4 days ago

I missed getting some good pictures of a kite festival here because I was with Clients in their car. I should know better than to let other people drive me around. LOL

Come join the fun in ActiveRain's Guerrilla Marketing Team Contest.

Posted by Russel Ray, San Diego Marketing & Business Consultant (Russel Ray) 4 days ago

Russell  You are a great storyteller with some very laughable events to report.  Washington, DC is home to a large annual kite event

Posted by Karen Kruschka - Prince William, Fairfax ,Stafford County VA Real Estate Service (RE/MAX Olympic Realty) 4 days ago

I can't wait for your market reports, those will be the most fun ones on AR!

Posted by Renee Burrows - Las Vegas NV Valley - Homes For Sale - Real Estate Market News (The Force Realty -Realtor>Estate>Probate>REO>Short Sale) 4 days ago

Hey everybody, thanks so much for showing up and leaving your comments! I really do plan t be back later and reply. Have a great day ;-)

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 4 days ago

Hey everybody, thanks so much for showing up and leaving your comments! I really do plan t be back later and reply. Have a great day ;-)

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (AvenueOne Properties, Austin Texas Real Estate) 4 days ago

Hi Russell......just popped in to see what you're up to......still flying a kite I see ;-)  Wishing you a wonderful day.


Posted by Gail MacMillan - CRS, e-PRO, GRI ~ Titusville FL Real Estate Brevard County (Home Sweet Home Florida Realty) 3 days ago

Hi Russell, That was a very interesting post to read. I recall as a kid, often building and competing in kite design and flying. I guess mine wasn't "Too Big to Fail ",lol, since it did as it was intended and graced the sky with color and design. We didn't have plastic. We used brown paper bags. My dad showed me how to take 6 and 9 inch square pieces of paper and by carefully overlapping and pasting with a combination paste he made from flour and something else, to layer the paper and create within the design, special air flow/drafts by peeling the corners back as I was assembling the paper before mounting to the frame. The assembled paper was treated with a highgloss enamel ( matching the woodwork in the house, LOL ) before I could paint my design on it using tempra paints and some the flour paste used to put the paper together. It created an almost jesso like finish on the design layer that was light weight but used more heavily for making the tail end of the design slightly heavier.

I never tried this again as an adult but I love to see all the competions we have here at Mission Bay. One day last summer when I got my first SLR camera,I headed to Mission Bay to capture some of the wonderful activities there. In the Spring, there are Kite Flying contests like the ones in Austin. I looked at my photos a minute ago and recall seeing a man headed to the greeens area to fly his kite. Nothing really impressive but it is all in the skill of flyer anyway. I really enjoyed you post.



Posted by San Diego Real Estate Voice authored by William Johnson GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE (RE/MAX Associates) 1 day ago

Makes me want to run out and buy a kite.  I loved them when I was a child.

Posted by Tammy Lankford/Broker Lane Realty Lake Sinclair-Central GA 1 day ago


What does the graphic say?