AUSTIN — South by Southwest 2012 is underway. The first events of the festival kicked off Friday morning at the Austin Convention Center.
Before the sun came up the tents were set up and before the doors opened at the Convention Center the crowds came to town.
It’s the show hundreds of thousands of people wait for every year.
“I think it really sums up what Austin is. People in Austin love to have a good time, love to be outdoors, love live music and entertainment and to have an event this successful here is a blast,” said Bryan Hantes of Max’s Wine Dive in downtown Austin.
SXSW has gained worldwide attention and the interactive conference is quickly becoming a hot spot for emerging technology.
“It’s pretty unusual to see a collection of people that are about as nerdy as I am. You know it’s hard to stand out in this crowd. You look around and everyone is doing something a little geekier than the last guy,” said 2011 attendee Eddie Stover.
People come from across the state, nation and the world. Last year’s conference gave many a glimpse at of what to expect this year.
“You start to get a taste for the future is like and you know this is a very gadget-oriented crowd so you see a lot of the new gadgets that are coming out,” said 2011 attendee Stafford Green of France.
The film festival also kicks off on Friday. There are 275 films on the schedule. SXSW organizers say they had to whittle that down from a list of 5,300 submissions. That’s seven percent more than last year.
“It’s definitely overwhelming because there’s so much going on but it’s a lot of fun,” said 2011 attendee Kendr Fizzuoglio of San Antonio.
The festival brings in a lot of money for Austin’s economy. With 250,000 visitors there’s more money going to restaurants, transportation and hotels. Last year the festival brought in $167 million.
The festival runs through next weekend with interactive lasting through March 13 and films through March 17. The music portion begins next Tuesday and continues through the 18th.
To keep traffic moving and crowds in control, Austin police will be out in full force. APD says about 400 officers will be out at any given time.