AUSTIN (KXAN) - The 85th annual Zilker Kite Festival kicked off Sunday to large crowds and a beautiful day of weather.
The festival was founded in 1929 by the Exchange Club and is held on the first Sunday of March every year.
It started as a kite tournament encouraging creativity in children. Exchange Club President Ed St. John came up with the idea to give kids a constructive activity the community could participate in.
In 1936 the Exchange Club partnered with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department to move the event to a newly opened Zilker Park.
By 1956 the kite tournament was opened to competitors of all ages.
Organizers say more than 20,000 people were expected at Sunday's Festival to create, enjoy, compete, or to simply fly a kite. Attendance this year is anticipated to exceed expectations. The Festival also garners 200 to 400 volunteers from across the Austin area.
ABC Home and Commercial Services sponsored this year's festival and distribute 5,000 free kites. ABC Home and Commercial Services CEO and Festival spokesperson Bobby Jenkins says he enjoys the Austin tradition free from alcohol and other barriers.
"This is a beloved, free event that has been a favorite custom for our city for generations. The simple act of gathering in the park to fly kites together-unfettered by alcohol or live music with no barriers to participation-that is what Austin is truly about,"
The Zilker Kite Festival is the longest continuously running kite festival in the United States
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