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Progress Report Austin 7 - Summer Fun

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1962

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  •  Bonner McLane 
  •  Beverly Sheffield, Director of Austin Parks and Recreation Department 
  •  Dick Brown, Managing Editor of the Austin American-Statesman 
  •  Bonner McLane mowing the lawn at his house on Larry Lane in Austin.  The children are his daughter and son, Elizabeth and John McLane. 
  •  Description of the first Aqua Festival 
 
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  • Aqua Festival Aqua Festival
  • About Gordon Wilkison About Gordon Wilkison
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This installment of the locally produced television program, Progress Report Austin, takes viewers on a tour of the many recreational venues and outdoor activities Austin has to offer. Highlights of the film include Barton Springs, the Highland Lakes, former minor league baseball team the Austin Senators, and Zilker Park. Also included is an interview with Joe K. Wells about the upcoming first annual Austin Aqua Festival.

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, 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.

Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
 
A particularly notable moment is his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
 
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
 
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.