The skies of Camp Casey were decorated with a vivid array of kites this weekend during the Whidbey Island Kite Festival.
The free festival took place Saturday and Sunday and attracted over 2,000 attendees according to an estimate by festival co-chair Lisa Root.
Cloudy skies Saturday and a southerly, variable wind both days may have deterred some prospective festival-goers, but those who did attend appeared to make the best of the less-than-ideal flying conditions.
It was certainly no hinderance for those like Tommy Ann Babst of Kent, who came with her husband, her son and his family. The Babsts are members of the American Kitefliers Association and regularly attend several festivals throughout the year, including the Whidbey Island Kite Festival and Washington State International Kite Festival.
“We attend as many as we can,” said Babst.
The Whidbey festival was one of the first she and her husband participated in. They’ve returned each year since.
Kite-flying, Babst said, “reminds you of the child that’s still in you,” and is also quite relaxing.
She noted that the community of fellow kite-flyers are also supportive and amicable. Smaller festivals like that at Camp Casey lend her the opportunity to connect with friends old and new in a more intimate setting, she added.
“This is a lovely site,” Babst said.
The event included several events, including single-line challenges, sport kite competitions and indoor kite competitions.
Sport kite competitions consisted of the precision category, in which the flier is tasked with flying the kite in a specific pattern, and the ballet, in which the flier flies his or her kite to music.
Single-line challenges included flying a kite with the festival logo colors, flying a kite with a representation of a person, flying a kite built in or for a workshop and flying a kite inspired by a figure in the entertainment industry.
Root, who is also a member of Whidbey Rev Flyers, noted that many kite-fliers made their own kites.
Though Root no longer competes, she and her partner flew kites fashioned in the Seattle Seahawks colors to the tune of one of the Seahawks’ theme songs.
“It’s creative and social,” Root said of kite-flying. “When you’re flying a kite, You’re not worrying about this or thinking about that.”
Younger flyers had the chance to make their own kites and participate in events such as the Running of the Boles and the ever-popular Teddy-Bear Drop. The latter was modified to suit the wind conditions on Saturday. Rather than parachuting the stuffed toys from a kite, lack of wind led organizers to decide upon tossing the animals instead. Nevertheless, numerous children lined up to catch a new fuzzy friend.
The festival also included the traditional mass ascension of single-line kites at noon each day. Saturday, dozens of delta kites took to the air while soft or flat and bowed kites flew Sunday, creating a colorful display of kites of various shapes and sizes.
“As kite flyers, we say, ‘you have to put a kite festival on your bucket list,’” said Babst.
The Whidbey Rev Flyers host a Fun Fly the third Saturday of each month at Fort Casey. All are welcome.