Date Submitted: March 31, 2010
Article Type: Discourse
ONE OF KITING’S “FIRST FAMILIES” & THE LONGEST RUNNING KITE FESTIVAL IN THE UNITED STATES
For the past twelve years, Richard Robertson, 82, of Austin, Texas has been attending a class entitled “Writing Your Memoirs.” It has encouraged him to start chronicling his life, much of which includes stories about his lifelong passion for kiting. Besides Austin being a desirable place for the Robertsons to live, work, and rear a family, the city is also home to the longest running kite festival in the United States. The Zilker Park Kite Festival (hereafter referred to as Zilker) is held the first weekend in March and had a record-breaking day at this year’s 82nd Annual, when it lived up to its reputation as being Austin’s harbinger of spring. The organizers estimated that nearly 15,000 people came out to the newly renovated “Great Lawn” to bask in the warm sunshine, and to watch and fly colorful kites soaring on perfect, light breezes. It doesn’t get much better, especially for the Robertsons.
Zilker has been an important part of the Robertsons’ lives for 48 years. In honor of Richard and Zilker, we’ve compiled a brief history of the festival, along with excerpts from Richard’s charming memoirs. [Note: Memoir excerpts are italicized in the text.]
ZILKER – EARLY HISTORY AND ED ST. JOHN
In 1929, Ed St. John, a young civic leader and later president of the Exchange Club of Austin and the Austin Chamber of Commerce, was looking for an activity in which the youth of Austin could be creative and active. He remembered flying kites as a kid in the fields now known as Zilker Park, where his father leased land for his brick making plant from Mr. Zilker. “So we got the clay in Zilker Park, and they transported the clay [to the brick plant] by buckets on cable, conveyor… Mr. Zilker decided he was going to sell the brickyard but he leased it to dad for 25 years. He appealed to dad to give up his lease,” said Ed in an interview with Richard at the 50th anniversary of Zilker.
Page Number: 41
PDF Link: Discourse Issue