This home movie captures scenes of the first annual Aqua Festival parade and rodeo in Austin in 1962. The Aqua Festival was founded in 1962 to promote Austin and the surrounding region as a destination and to boost the local economy during its slow season. This film documents one of the festival's parades, where floats from local organizations and surrounding counties pass on the Congress Avenue Bridge, usually ridden upon by a beauty queen and her court. Brief scenes of the Aqua Festival Rodeo are also included.
The Austin Aqua Festival began in 1962 as Aqua Fest, a ten-day festival that featured local music acts and a variety of water-related events, held in August to boost tourism during a normally slow season. Most events took place on the newly-formed Town Lake and "Festival Beach," a park along the river just east of Interstate 35. The festival included parades, a variety of races, a beauty pageant, a rodeo, and theme nights. In 1980, major Aqua Festival events were moved to the larger Auditorium Shores park, where multiple stages for entertainment shifted the focus of the festival towards ever larger musical acts and away from local talent and water sports through the 80s and 90s. After a few years of higher ticket prices and dropping attendance, the last festival was held in 1998.