In light of the descending extreme sports — or "action" sports, if you're partial to that label — festival coming into town this week, today's Wayback Wednesday looks back at Austin's first sports-music hybrid festival, the Austin Aqua Festival.
Founded by the city's chamber of commerce, the annual festival, which ran from 1962 to 1998, aimed to boost tourism during the slower summer months. As the years went on, Aqua Fest drew huge crowds (more than 200,000 at its peak in the '80s) and drew national acts and local favorites, like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson.
But, it also enraged some communities along Lady Bird Lake, most notably Hispanic communities in East Austin, who protested noisy speedboat races near Festival Beach, and those in Bouldin Creek, who didn't like the idea of motorcycle races careening through their neighborhood. Ultimately, the fest ended in 1998 after years of declining attendance, but below is a look at the proto-X-Games, proto-ACL known as Aqua Fest.
In its first year, the fest featured a water ski jump contest on Town Lake, an accompanying rodeo, a boat parade down Town Lake, a 100-mile canoe race down the Colorado River, fireworks, a couple of beauty contests, some concerts and a couple more land parades.
Below is a collection of gifs from Aqua Fest over the years.