“This is the extent of what I know: Someone holds it up, and then you run.” Overheard at the kite festival by Kelsey.
Check out some of the kites and sights seen at the festival by clicking one of the circles to start a slideshow. Photos by Jenny.
Flying kites has been a hobby of Don Stark for more than 20 years.
The Wings Over Washington Kite Club member flew kites as a child and started again when his daughters wanted to learn.
Now, Stark flies everything from “next-to-no-wind kites to some pretty big ones,” he said. “If the wind picks up, I might even bring out my panda bear to fly. He’s 12-feet tall.”
But with the near-still air, it might not be the right flying conditions for the panda bear.
“He takes a bit of wind to fly,” Stark said.
Stark was one of several WOW members to attend this year’s kite festival. About 25 to 30 members comprise the club, in addition to family members who fly with them.
Stark has competed several times in some of the festival’s competitions, most notably when it was still known as the Smithsonian Kite Festival, when he won twice.
This year, Stark was toting around a few smaller diamond kites, which he made out of ripstop nylon, micro carbon string and super glue and decorated with Sharpie. The nylon weighs about a half ounce per square yard and can be flown inside.
“In my bag, the smallest kite is about this tall — an inch and a half tall,” said Stark, stretching his thumb and index finger apart to show the length. His largest kite, he said, is a delta kite that’s about 19 feet tip-to-tip.
People who are curious in learning to fly should talk to members of any of the clubs present at the festival, Stark said.
“We want you to come and fly our kites for a bit before you spend a lot of money,” he said. “Find out what you like to fly because there are a lot of different styles.”
The multi-stringed kites, for example, are much more difficult to learn to master than simple single-stringed kites, Stark said.
Interested in flying in a competition? Just go for it, Stark said. “Have fun. And if you want to learn about kites, talk to someone in one of the clubs. We all love to talk about kites.”
Mr. Stark mentioned his interest in aerial kite photography. Basically, he rigs a small point-and-shoot camera to a kite and shoots photos from above to get a new perspective on various landscapes. Check out some neat examples from award-winning photographer Scott Haefner.
The information booth (number 4 on the map) also features a station to write postcards to soldiers. The cards will be sent overseas and distributed to different bases representing all branches of the armed forces. If you get a chance to take a break from all the fun, visit the station to write a note and brighten a soldier’s day.
Interested in learning more about kites from around the world? Be sure to check out the Goodwill Ambassadors tent (number 7 on the map). There are images of different kites from around the world and little coloring sheets for kids to work on their artistic skills. The sheets also include some facts about the kite and even suggest a story related to the country of origin.
Don’t worry if you forgot to bring a kite. You can buy one here at the festival. And better yet, volunteers are here to help you assemble them! Kites cost $15 and can be purchased at the kite sales tend (number 3 on the map).
Damaged or broken kite? No worries. The festival has a kite doctor station near the entrance where festival goers can bring their kites for quick repairs.
Thinking of bringing your canine pal to the festival? Not a problem! Just make sure to keep all dogs on their leash and be careful they don’t chase after those colorful kites. There is also a pet comfort station with water and doggie treats.