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Keeping it weird

Festival and 5K embrace Austin's weirdness

Suzannah Gonzales

Virginia Lake was decked out in a tall pink wig, sunglasses, pink mini dress and apron while her husband, Bill Langford, sported a wiener hat and red striped shirt.

"We're soda jerks," Lake, 46, explained. "Any event where you can wear weird stuff and fit in. I wish we could dress like this every day!"

Lake and Langford, 53, were among those who dressed for the occasion Saturday — the eighth annual Keep Austin Weird Fest and 5K. About 1,600 ran in the race, and 3,000 attended the festival on the South First Street bridge, an event organizer said.

"It's about supporting people who are from here," said Michelle Graham, owner of Bounce, the event production and public relations company that put on Saturday's event. "Local businesses that began here, have a big presence here, that work with other local businesses here and serve the local community."

On Saturday afternoon, vendors — local businesses, such as Amy's Ice Creams, Austin's Pizza and RunTex — lined up along the South First Street bridge, where small crowds gathered to listen to live music. Five bands performed. "Keep Austin Weird" T-shirts, hats and koozies were among the items for sale at the festival.

The 5K race began at 7 p.m. Some were in it to run fast and take it seriously, but more just wanted to have a good time, Graham said.

Event sponsors judged runners' costumes, and a handful of women who dressed as brides won, receiving a Gibson guitar, she said.

"Our basic idea is the people, places, businesses and things that make Austin unique," Graham said.

The event gave Sarah Wright, 19, the opportunity to reuse her Wenda (Waldo 's female counterpart) costume.

She came to the festival with two friends wearing a red and white hat with a red pompom, red-and-white striped shirt and black-rimmed glasses.

"I think it's pretty cool," Wright said of the event. She came out "to see all the costumes and craziness."

"It's celebrating what makes Austin unique," Wright said. "We're not afraid to be weird and different."; 445-3616