Me with bat

Me posing with a new friend on the Congress Avenue Bridge at Austin’s Bat Fest, August 23, 2014.

On one of my many sojourns to Austin, Texas, I was lucky enough to attend the annual Bat Fest, which in 2019 will be held Saturday, August 24, from 4 p.m. to midnight on the Congress Avenue Bridge downtown.

What is that, you ask?

Texas is famous for its bat colonies, and the state is home to 32 species. In fact, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife, Bracken Cave Preserve and the Congress Avenue Bridge are the largest known colonies in the world. It’s not uncommon for people to watch the bats emerge from their caves every evening, and events, like Austin’s annual Bat Fest, are much-anticipated occasions. Here’s a list of hotspots:

Mural on side of Congress gas station

This artwork, on the side of a gas station/convenience store right near the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, pays homage to the world’s largest known urban bat colony.

Back in 1982 or so, I read one of those cheesy 1970s thrillers called The Anthrax Mutation, by Alan Scott. I don’t remember a whole lot about the plot or the characters, but I do remember one very disturbing scene with a few dead cows; I also remember I developed a fascination with bats. Naturally, when my sister, Missie, moved to Austin, Texas, seeing the bats take to the night skies was on my bucket list.

Anthrax Mutation Cover

In 2014, we made it happen. Here’s some photos and video from the 2014 event, which featured live music, vendors, food, booze, and, of course, a prime spot for watching the bats! Get your tickets for this year’s party and learn more here:

Here is a viewing guide for the bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge:

If you’re at all curious about The Anthrax Mutation? I know I have my dad’s original first edition paperback in the basement, but it’s still available out there used and pretty cheap. Check it out on Amazon here:



About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, served as a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, has judged both writing and grant competitions and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info:

Posted on August 11, 2019, in Events, News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I love bats. They get after mosquitoes who love me too much!

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