Austin Kite Festival makes long anticipated return

Darren Puccala, Life and Arts general reporter

Bright, multicolored kites fill the clear sky above the historic fields of Zilker Park. Those who aren’t seeking solace from the blazing sun, look up toward the soaring kites, hoping for a gust of wind to prompt the flight of their own. 

Established in 1929, Austin’s annual kite festival has brought together families and friends to enjoy the start of spring for 93 years. However, for the last two, the festival did not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, this April 3, thousands of Austinites made their way to Zilker to celebrate the return of the Kite Festival. 

Bobby Jenkins, owner of ABC Home & Commercial Services and the host of the Kite Festival, said he felt an overwhelming excitement for the return of the festival and the many different planned events, such as the MossFest children’s concert, the Pet Zone and the Exchange Club Community Kite Contest.  

“I am so excited to be with friends and other Austinites — the entire community,” Jenkins said.  “The thing that really does put the biggest smile on my face is seeing kids out there with their family, with friends, flying kites and enjoying our absolute jewel of a park … Zilker Park. That is the absolute best picture that Austin has to offer.”

Neuroscience sophomore Isabella Smillie said she was thrilled to see the return of the festival and thoroughly enjoyed this year’s festivities with her friends.  

“​​There were a ton of people, lots of families and kids running around,” Smillie said. “People brought their own food and blankets. Everyone was playing music … lots of people were excited to be outside. We’ve been inside for a lot the past couple of years.”

Smillie said Austin Kite Festival’s energy and turnout remain an integral part of the community, which she and Austinites of all generations missed dearly during the festival’s hiatus. 

Attendee Randi West furthered the cross-generational love for this event with her 8-year-old daughter Rae.

“She’s a master kite flier,” West said. “(After) having it rain every year for about three years and having it get pushed back (because of) COVID, bringing her here is really fun.”

In addition to his personal reasons for valuing the event, Jenkins said the Kite Festival provides a sense of community, camaraderie and pure joy that he’s grown to love and look forward to annually.“I have my grandkids out there and I can’t wait to be out there with them and fly some kites the rest of the afternoon,” Jenkins said.