Hanging Around at Bat Fest

Did you know Austin has bats?

This is actually one of the first thing you learn about the city when you move here, along with good music and good food. Bats. So many bats.

1.5 million bats to be exact.

These spirit animals of Austin live under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge and from about March to October, right before sundown, they emerge, like, well…

Thanks Meatloaf.

I’ve lived in Austin for over two months now and hadn’t seen them yet. You have to hang out on the bridge for a while, guessing for when they’ll come out. Who’s got the damn time? However, I knew I’d have my shot at Bat Fest.

Yes, Bat Fest.

BAT FEST?

Bat Fest! The annual celebration of everything Austin, including music and food and vendors and all the bats you can handle. This is what they say about themselves:
What will you see at Bat Fest this year? 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from under the bridge at dusk, 2 stages with live music, more than 50 arts & crafts vendors, delicious food and drinks, fun children’s activities, a bat costume contest and other bat activities.

Nice.

So, I’ll tell you this, the festival itself was a little bit of a mixed bag. It was a blast to be on the bridge surrounded by the city, meeting people, eating some tasty street food and hearing some serious throwback music like Chingy, Mike Jones and Baby Bash.

 Man, so much fun!

Some of the vendors though we’re not as wonderful as I had hoped they would be. Someone tried to sell me a timeshare, I was almost forced into hopping into a pay photo booth and water was annoyingly $4 a pop, which we bought, only to discover that three booths down, they were giving it away for free.

Grrrrrrrrr…

 There were some bits of horror insanity though, which of course I found weird and delightful.

Still, just to sit in the sun, drink at a festival on a bridge and see Austin come to life was a blast. Plus, you know, the bats…

ALL THE BATS!

Look, when I tell you there we’re 1.5 million bats that came out of this bridge, I don’t think I’m doing those words justice.

At about 7:30, we found a spot underneath the bridge and waiting for them to come out Sundown was 8:10 and we figured they’d be along shortly. You know they’re hiding under the bridge but it is impossible to see any of them, so hey, they had to be out anytime now.

We we’re wrong.

We waited to 8, and then 8:10, and then 8:20 and then right up to about 8:30 when the first little guy flew out of the bridge. It was just a few at first and people pointed and oohs and ahhed and went, “Look at the bats…”

And then…

WOAH!

SO. MANY. BATS! My coworked described it as looking kind of evil, and I can’t argue, there’s a little bit of a sci-fi nightmare as one million bats that you previously couldn’t see fly out of a man-man cave to own the night.

Also, it was incredible.

Look, it’s touristy and weird and you’ll hang out on a bridge for a while but if you are in Austin, come see the bats. And if you’re in Austin in the summer, come drink on that bridge and see the bats at Bat Fest.

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