The sky was filled with color at the D River Wayside in Lincoln City on Saturday, Oct. 6, as the 40th annual Fall Kite Festival got off the ground.
“We had a sunny, great day on Saturday,” said Eric Johnson with Explore Lincoln City, the city organization that puts on the event. “It was just picture perfect. It was beautiful, the wind conditions were perfect.”
Sunday, on the other hand, was not quite as favorable in terms of weather — skies were overcast and the wind wasn’t cooperating. “It was night and day,” Johnson said of the contrast between the two days of the festival. However, that didn’t seem to stop those who attended on Sunday from having a good time. “It was still good on Sunday,” he said. “We had the stunt fliers out doing their thing. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough wind to get any of the big show kites up, but it was fun. The big show kite fliers came out into the audience and were signing autographs and talking with people, so we made the most of it.”
Although it’s difficult to get an exact count of people attending a festival like this, organizers did track the number of folks who stopped by the information booth. “About 1,500 kids came up and did our kid’s passport,” said Johnson. “A bunch of families from Portland and Salem came out. There was the issue of whether it was going to rain on Saturday … but people took their chances, came on out and they had a great time. It was really good.”
In addition to watching the kites, there were opportunities for people to get involved. There was a kite-making booth for young people, sponsored by Family Promise of Lincoln County, and children and families also took part in an event called “The Running of the Bols.”
Johnson described the bols as doughnut-shaped kites. “You’re basically strapped to these doughnut kites, and you have to race to the finish against the wind. We usually do four or five heats, so I’d say maybe 60 to 80 people. We supply the doughnut kites — the city actually purchased them — and it’s a lot of fun. The kids get a kick out of it, the parents get a kick out of it and the spectators get a kick out of it.”
As usual, the festival included big show kites and professional kite fliers from the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Stunt fliers demonstrated their aerial techniques with kites dancing on the wind, performing a routine set to music. There was also new addition this year, the Oregon Mermaids, who had a booth set up at the festival. People had an opportunity to take a “selfie” with a mermaid and learn tips about caring for the environment. “This group teaches kids about ocean conservation,” said Johnson.
Over the years, the Fall Kite Festival has become one of Lincoln City’s signature events. “It was started 40 years ago by a local group of kite fliers — some of them are still involved today,” said Johnson. “They started as a way to get folks to come to Lincoln City in the off season.
“Lincoln City historically has been known as a great place to fly a kite,” he added. “Just given our geography, our location on the Oregon coast, we’ve always had great winds for kite flying, so a group of local kite fliers came up with the idea of doing a festival in the fall to get people, and 40 years later it’s been doing wonderful. And since then, we also have the Summer Kite Festival.”