Thousands get high at Camp Casey

Glenda Kleppin and Jerry Graham of Bonney Lake, along with Kleppin’s strap-on dog Susie, flew their kites at the island’s kite festival Saturday. - Jessie Stensland
Glenda Kleppin and Jerry Graham of Bonney Lake, along with Kleppin’s strap-on dog Susie, flew their kites at the island’s kite festival Saturday.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland

About 4,000 people from British Columbia to Oregon came to Central Whidbey over the weekend to compete and watch kites of all shapes and sizes soar in the blue over Camp Casey Conference Center.

This is the third year the Whidbey Island Kite Festival Association and Whidbey Island Kite Fliers held the Kite Festival and Sport Kite Championships.

Kiters said the weather and winds were simply perfect.

“It’s a great day,” said Glenda Kleppin of Bonney Lake. “It’s like any kite festival. The wind comes, it goes. The kites go up and the kites go down.”

Like many at the festival, Kleppin and Jerry Graham are avid kite fliers who travel to festivals all over Washington and Oregon. Kleppin flew her kite with her tiny dog, Susie, strapped to her chest.

“She’s the most well-known dog in the Pacific Northwest kite-flying community,” Kleppin said.

The two days of the festival included a kite-making school for kids, sport kite-flying lessons and a spectacular mass ascension of kites that stopped lookee-loo traffic on the way to the ferry dock.

There are endless styles of kites at the festival. There were the old Benjamin Franklin-type flat kite, the boxy “cellular kites,” the three-dimensional “tri-D” kites and two-handed sport kites. There were beautiful kites shaped like tin soldiers, birds and giant dragons in the sky.

Probably the most popular event among the younger crowd was the Teddy Bear Drop. The small furry skydivers were hoisted up above the field and released. Children whose names were drawn from a raffle tried to catch the chubby bears as they parachuted to the ground.

But the main purpose of the festival was a sport or “stunt” kite competition. These type of kites, which are controlled by two lines, can do amazing and precise acrobatics in the hands of a skilled kiter.

“This festival focuses on sport kiting,” Graham said. “Us one-liners are allowed to hang around.”

The competition included both individual and team competition in several events. There was the ballets, free-flight performances set to music. The music of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle and the classics filled the air.

Then there were the precision events in which flyers perform a series of “compulsory maneuvers,” broken up into novice, experience nad masters levels. The mid-sky maneuvers included the ladder down, the two circles within a circle, the T-bone and the tulip.

While the competitions were undoubtedly exciting, most flyers said they love the relaxing, out-of-body feeling of controlling an object as it soars through the air.

“You forget about all your troubles,” said Jeremy Perceval, a British Columbia man who was giving kite-flying lessons. “To me, there’s nothing I would rather do that fly a kite.”

Kite flying is definitely a popular and growing hobby/sport nationwide. Allen Taylor said he and his wife, Marjorie, go to kite festivals in the Northwest about every other weekend.

On Whidbey, there are 37 members of the island’s kite fliers club. In fact, the most popular maker of competition kites is located in Coupeville. Taylor said Richard Barnes of Pizazz Kiteworks makes the kites “one at a time.”

Club Vice President Linda Barnes said that the club and association is dedicated to passing on the love of kite flying to the younger generation. They host kite-building workshops in schools and organizations in April, which is national kite-building month, and award scholarships to the famous kite-building event in Port Townsend.

Many children showed great enthusiasm for the flying creations during the festival. Twelve-year-old Luke Gering of Mercer Island took a kite-flying lesson and then practices on his own.

“I’m interested in doing more stalling,” he said. He described “stalling” as “getting the kite to glide sideways back to the ground.”

Steve Whitlock of Oak Harbor said his 3-year-old son, Cole, fell in love with kites this summer.

“He’s enjoying it all. All the different kites,” he said. “He talked us into getting him one of the kid-sized ones.”

You can reach Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.

info box

Coupeville teams go national

Two teams from Coupeville did well enough at the Kite Festival to qualified to go to national competition in Ocean City, Maryland, next week. Team Islanders, made up of festival organizer Marjorie Taylor and field operator Allen Taylor, placed first in the “team train” choreographed ballet.

Another Coupeville team, Wing’n It, placed second in pairs ballet and also took second in the team train. The team is made up of Bud and Lisa Root.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates