Whidbey Island Kite Fliers and festival organizers Lisa Root, left, and Linda Barnes work on getting a kite off the ground at Fort Casey. (Photos by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)

Whidbey Island Kite Fliers and festival organizers Lisa Root, left, and Linda Barnes work on getting a kite off the ground at Fort Casey. (Photos by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)

Come fly a kite: Annual Kite Festival is Sept. 21-22 at Camp Casey

Whidbey Island has a reputation among kite-flyers.

The wind presents a real challenge, with gusts from every which way. The grassy fields of Camp Casey make unusual footing for kite-flyers making the rounds on competitive cycles. And the annual kite festival is a definite must-go stop for anyone within the region even remotely interested in the high-flying objects.

The Whidbey Island Kite Festival is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 21 and 22 at the Camp Casey Conference Center.

“You’ve got to be pretty quick on your feet,” said Casey Shearer, president of Washington Kitefliers Association. “The nice thing about (the festival) is it does attract top-level competitors…Whidbey is regarded as a very important competition.”

The two-day, free Whidbey Island Kite Festival will feature the favorites: the surprise song “mystery ballet” performances, the Teddy Bear Drop, the Running of the Bols, a raffle draw for prizes, a mass ascension, sport kite competitions, and kite-flying experts who will show off their skills in Whidbey’s wind.

Come fly a kite: Annual Kite Festival is Sept. 21-22 at Camp Casey

The kite festival, produced by the Whidbey Island Kite Fliers and the Whidbey Island Kite Festival Association, is an American Kitefliers Association-endorsed event.

Shearer is the AKA director for Region 10, covering Washington through Alaska. He has high praise for the Whidbey Island Kite Festival in particular, as it is one of his favorite events of the year.

The festival draws thousands of visitors from Whidbey and beyond. All kinds of kites can be found in the skies, from the trailing lines of the Ghost Kites to the chiseled sports kites. Advanced flyers can be seen managing multiple lines and performing stunts, and, of course, there’s fun kites too — giant ducks, spinning wheels, Seahawk-themed designs, snake-shaped wigglers and more.

The Whidbey Island Kite Fliers launched the first festival two decades ago, with a handful of kite-enthusiasts coming together to create the club which now meets the third Saturday of every month at Fort Casey to fly.

“We have a fun club,” organizer Linda Barnes said, with between 30 and 35 members looking for “any excuse to fly their kites.”

At the festival, her husband, Richard “Dick” Barnes, also known as the “kite doctor,” will be in the house to address all pressing kite concerns.

Dick Barnes, known as a master kite maker, works on a ground display at Fort Casey on Saturday Sept. 7.

Dick Barnes, known as a master kite maker, works on a ground display at Fort Casey on Saturday Sept. 7.

Steep discounts on kites of all kinds can be found at the used kite loft, and there will be food provided by the Central Whidbey Lions Club.

The sky will be filled with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes during the Mass Ascension at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Anyone can bring a kite and join in the eye-catching spectacle of flying fabric.

The Teddy Bear Drop, a favorite for the young ones, is at 1 p.m. both days. The stuffed animal is hoisted high in the air and released to the clutches of waiting children.

If there’s no wind, it’s more like the “teddy bear toss,” Barnes said.

The indoor kite flying at the Coupeville High School Gym gym will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

There will be free flying lessons for those interested in learning about the art of kite-flying. The Running of the Bols will have the circular kites spinning high as flyers charge across the fields.

The main fundraisers for the event are raffles with prizes donated from Whidbey merchants. This year, they have between 200 and 250 items, Barnes said, including discount coupons, gift certificates and bigger prizes.

The sport kite championships and competitions run throughout both days. Times can be found at the festival website, whidbeykites.org.

And the mystery ballet really is a mystery, presenting a challenge for flyers to create a kite routine on the spot to any song, be it rap or classical.

“It’s fun to have people display their expertise,” Barnes said.

Two-year-old Alakai Dickerson of Issaquah admires an item at the ground kite display set up at the Fort Casey display on Saturday Sept. 7. Whidbey Island Kite Fliers set up the display for fun, capturing the attention of the young visitor.

Two-year-old Alakai Dickerson of Issaquah admires an item at the ground kite display set up at the Fort Casey display on Saturday Sept. 7. Whidbey Island Kite Fliers set up the display for fun, capturing the attention of the young visitor.

More in Life

South Whidbey Homeless Coalition donation by Rotary
South Whidbey Rotary clubs donate to Homeless Coalition

Last Friday, the two Rotary Clubs on South Whidbey presented Executive Director… Continue reading

Annual Whidbey Gardening Workshop grows online this year

The island-wide gardening event is back this year after it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Whidbey writer’s hospice book released in paperback

Oak Harbor author Karen J. Clayton’s book, “Demystifying Hospice: Inside the Stories… Continue reading

Reading to dog
Therapy dogs go online

Reading with Rover pairs pooches with young readers

South Whidbey Homeless Coalition donation by Rotary
South Whidbey Rotary clubs donate to Homeless Coalition

Last Friday, the two Rotary Clubs on South Whidbey presented Executive Director… Continue reading

Lead actress Shannyn Sossamon talks with filmmakers Andrew Morehouse, left, and Nate Bell while filming “The Hour After Westerly” at the Fort Casey Inn. Photo by Wes Anthony/Firehouse Creative
Film featuring Whidbey free to view temporarily

“The Hour After Westerly” is free to view online until Jan. 17.

Mead maker Jeremy Kyncl pours a tasting glass of Hawthorn Tulsi Mead, a blend of hawthorn berry and holy basil, in the new Whidbey tasting room of Hierophant Meadery. Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
From bluff to bluff: Meadery off to sweet start

Hierophant Meadery in Freeland features local honey in its sweet brews.

Susie Van
WI Drive helping to get the elderly, disabled where they need to go

A Langley woman gives rides to people in need in her new van named “Cookie.”

t
A Hero for All Time: Research reveals a decorated former Fort Casey soldier

Coupeville woman writes book about local WWI soldier who gained Col. George S. Patton’s admiration.

teaser
Bakery moves to new location

Chris’ Bakery is in a new location with a new owner.

I Love You
Wendy’s manager shares the love one drive-thru customer at a time

April DiDonna tells Oak Harbor Wendy’s customers she cares.

Goodall arranges some food in the to-go window, where customers pick up their food from outside.
New cafe in town adapted to COVID world

Langley Kitchen has adapted to the times.