Austin seems to love bats, which is great, because we have a lot of bats. You can tell because if you happen to pass over the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge on any summer evening between 6-8 p.m., you’ll see not only one-and-a-half million Mexican free-tailed bats taking off, but masses of locals and tourists alike crowding the sidewalk to get a close up view as the bats head out for their nightly feeding.
The bridge (commonly referred to as Congress Bridge) was partially renovated during a 1980 Lady Bird Lake renewal project to specifically help create a home for Austin’s bat population, which is actually a species of special concern since it’s particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction. In return, the bats provide a nightly flight show (bats have the fastest horizontal speed of any animal) as well as eat literally 30,000 pounds of insects every day. Austin’s bats are a win-win.
Clearly I like bats. And so do Austinites, as we have built an entire festival around the little fellows. This year is the 13th production of Bat Fest – a one day festival featuring three stages with live music, 75 arts and crafts vendors, food and drinks, children’s activities, and other bat activities. Yes, it’s a bat-themed festival. Performers include Bone Thugs N Harmony, Scott Stapp, Paul Wall, Sam Riggs, Sick Puppies, and many more.
There’s also a bat costume contest, with a $100 prize going to the top costume. Kids and adults are judged separately, so no worries about competing against an adorable three-year-old. You won’t win if all you do is break out your Batman costume – get creative, Austin.
The festival happens on Saturday, August 19, at the Congress Avenue Bridge. Tickets are $15. For more info visit http://www.roadwayevents.com.