Kyle Jensen / The Record — Whidbey Island Kite Festival will feature a range of intricate kites, including those made by hand, such as this caterpillar with moving legs.

Preparing to fly high for Whidbey Island Kite Festival

Annual Camp Casey event features games and contests

Camp Casey will be overrun with vibrant colors and displays of creativity Sept. 16 and 17 as hundreds of kites take to the sky for the annual Whidbey Island Kite Festival.

But for the Whidbey Island Kite Fliers, this isn’t a once-a-year sight. They fly their kites as a group every month, both to practice coordinated team flying and to test their newest hand-made creations.

Many local kite aficionados took to the skies on the Labor Day holiday to gear up for the festival, which is sponsored by Coupeville Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.

“The thing about the kite festival is the colors and the imagination that is put into some of the kites,” said Lisa Root, festival chairwoman. “Seeing hundreds of beautiful kites dominating the sky is just incredible.”

Whidbey Island Kite Festival is a combination of a family-friendly community flying event and a sport kite competition that attracts people from far and wide.

An annual event in Coupeville since the late ’90s, according to Root, the festival brings out “about 1,500 people that come and go each day, at least.”

Most people bring their kites to fly, whether purchased or handmade, although some arrive to simply witness the vibrant display of human creativity over a picnic.

With the backdrop of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, it’s a colorful sight.

The festival features a plethora of events. One facet of the festival is the sport kite league, where the competing fliers butt heads in sporting categories such as precision and ballet; kites must fly in a certain way to score points and fly to music, respectively. Members of Whidbey Island Kite Fliers compare ballet to figure skating and say competitive kite fliers prepare for them like an athlete would for a competition.

There are also team competitions, where kite fliers stand shoulder to shoulder and direct their kites in a coordinated manner.

Practicing recently, a group from Whidbey Island Kite Fliers directed their kites in unison, similar to the movements seen in synchronized swimming. As one kite flier gave directions to move left, right and turn, the others followed suit.

As precise as clockwork.

Steve Dutcher of Oak Harbor said the group flying is where people test their mettle.

“You don’t really get good until you fly with other people, because you have to keep an eye on other kites that are close by,” Dutcher said. “Plus, for me it’s all about flying together. Together, everyone here has become masters and I can hardly keep up with them.”

For those not looking to compete, the Whidbey Island Kite Festival has a number of other events.

The Whidbey Island Kite Fliers put on kite-making sessions for both kids and adults, as the members of the group all dabble in their own kite-making, designing simplistic crafts to intricate ones with multiple moving parts that sway in the wind.

There is also a competition for kids to test their strength, where the object is to run with a kite against the wind.

Root says the most popular event tends to be the annual Teddy Bear Drop at 1 p.m. on both days. This is when a kite drops a stuffed animal dangling on a parachute into a swarm of eager kids battling to snag it from the sky.

For those hoping to snap a postcard picture, Root says the festival has a mass ascension at 12:30 p.m. both days.

“With the best wind on the island, a large field and the view of the mountains behind the Sound, it’s an amazing sight,” Root said. “Knowing the hours people dedicated to making their kites and practicing their flying make it even better.”

Whidbey Island Kite Festival

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, and Sunday, Sept. 17

Where: Camp Casey Conference Center, Coupeville. Free admission.

What: Whidbey Island Sport Kite Championship competitions both days; kid’s kite making and games; sport kite lessons, free-fly area and food vendors both days.

Featured events: Mass Ascension at 12:30 p.m. both days; Teddy Bear Drop, 1 p.m. both days; Indoor Kite Flying at Coupeville High School gym; 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Presented by Whidbey Island Kite Festival Association and Whidbey Island Kite Fliers.

For more information log on to www.whidbeykites.org

Contributed photo — The Whidbey Island Kite Fliers meet for their monthly “fun fly” at Fort Casey rain or shine, or even fog.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Festival chair Lisa Root (right) joins others from Whidbey Island Kite Fliers in a team flight Monday afternoon.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Lake Stevens resident Mari Daniels prepares her handmade dragon kite to take flight.

More in Life

New play, new roles for The Bard’s women

‘Fan fiction for Shakespeare nerds’

Seminar targets firearms safety

A safer community is the goal of a new free firearms seminar… Continue reading

On a mission to help hoarders

Downsizing, clearing clutter also part of Oak Harbor business

Balancing life with a ‘Great Dane cane’

Big service dog makes big difference for Oak Harbor woman

Rockin’ A Hard Place: Happy trails to you, until we meet in Coupeville

Over Christmas and New Year’s, some friends sat around our house sharing… Continue reading

Kids’ books with big people issues

Susan Jensen draws the thaw of global warming

Evan Thompson / The Record — Freeland resident Scott Robbins battles waves as he attempts to kitesurf during a windy morning on Dec. 28 at Useless Bay.
Kiteboarders battle big waves at Useless Bay

Strong winds recently attracted a few kiteboarders to Useless Bay. Three adrenaline… Continue reading

Contributed photo — Island Jazz Collective perform at Rustica in Oak Harbor with their full quintet. From left to right: Dale Stirling, Don Wodjenski, Ken Bloomquist, Dr. Bob Wagner and Mark Strohschein.
Jazz collective changes tune, shape as needed

Bands on Whidbey Island have a dilemma when it comes to performing,… Continue reading

Peter, Peter — Writer, Seeker

I opened my front door to the quietest of knocks. Our six-year-old… Continue reading

Not your typical house cats

Greenbank resident John Lussmyer’s fridge is stocked with pounds upon pounds of… Continue reading

Potters of Whidbey hosting first holiday sale

‘So many of us between Oak Harbor and Clinton’