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Bat Fest returns to Austin

This weekend, Austin's Bat Fest returns. The Congress Avenue Bridge will be blocked off throughout the day as thousands of people come to see the bats.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Saturday, the Congress Avenue Bridge will be blocked off for the 17th annual Bat Fest, which runs from 5 p.m. until midnight.

The bridge will be closed from 5 a.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Sunday.

Austin is known for its bats at the bridge. According to Texas Park and Wildlife, Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world, housing an estimated at 1.5 million bats. 

Every evening, those bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Austin native French Smith started Bat Fest 19 years ago and holds the festival each August, when the bats are very active.

"Watching the people gather on the bridge to watch the bats. I was like, 'That is a good reason do the festival.' I took a chance, didn't know if people would come out, it started real grass roots with some small bands, arts and crafts and people came out," Smith said.

Now, it's an event thousands of people head to the bridge to enjoy every year. This year, there will be two nearby stages, including one at the old Austin American-Statesman parking lot. There will be 12 musicians, who are also helping to put the event on. 

"Flo Rida is going to be our headliner, along with Mike Jones, Alien Ant Farm, amazing bands," sponsorship director Ric Maddox said.

The bats are expected to fly out at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.

Smith said the festival has really become a spectacle.

“Crowds on the bridge, cameras going off ... they love to see the bats there and after that, they go watch music and see great bands," Smith said.

The cost to get in is $35. Water stations will be set up because of the heat. Flo Rida will headline and is expected to take the stage at around 11 p.m.

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