Flying high

"The organizers of the Whidbey Island Kite Festival are also enthusiastic kite fliers. Allen Taylor, left, Whidbey Island Kite Club president Marjorie Taylor, and kite maker Dick Barnes show off a variety of kites. Marjorie Taylor is holding a bowed kite with a geometric pattern, and a delta kite made by Barnes, with a one-of-a-kind design that matches the festival's logo, which will be raffled this weekend.June Vigor/staff photo Where and whenThe Whidbey Island Kite Festival and Washington State Sport Kite Championships are set for Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23 and 24 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Camp Casey Conference Center. The combined festival and competition is sponsored by the Whidbey Island Kite Fliers and the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce.Admission is free. There is a fee to compete. Bring a chair and a picnic. There won't be food vendors at the festival. Here's the festival program:Saturday9 a.m. - Sport kite registration10 a.m. - Sport kite competition begins, continues all day10 a.m.-noon - Kids kitemaking and kite flying lessons for all agesnoon-1 p.m. - lunch break2 p.m. - Fighter kite demonstrationSunday9 a.m. - Sport kite registration10 a.m. - Sport kite competition begins, continues all day10 a.m.-noon - Kids kitemaking and kite flying lessons for all agesnoon-1 p.m. - lunch break1 p.m. - Beginners class precision competition3 p.m. - Pairs, team and individual demonstrations4 p.m. - Raffle drawing and awards presentationEvents in the Washington State Sport Kite Championships continue throughout the day both days and include ballet and precision events for kite fliers in three classes, novice, experienced and masters.For information, call 360-678-9358. Whidbey Island Kite Festival takes to the sky this weekendMarjorie and Allen Taylor have to stop and think when you ask them how many kites they have.The Coupeville couple take into account that they've just sold 15 or so kites. They count in the beautiful kites that hang on the walls of their home as art. And then they make a rough estimate as to how many kites they actually fly, for fun and in competitions around the country, and come up with a figure.Oh, I'd say we own 60 to 80 kites, they say.The two are just part of a kite renaissance that's sweeping Whidbey Island. Together with kite maker Dick Barnes, of Pizazz Kiteworks in Coupeville, and his wife, Linda Barnes, they helped to start the Whidbey Island Kite Club in June. The group already has 30 members and is growing steadily. Plans for the Whibey Island Kite Festival and Washington State Sport Kite Championships, coming up this weekend, were already underway when the club was formed, to help bring the festival together. Marjorie Taylor, club president, says that the club, which caters for the whole island, has taken on a life of its own. We meet for a fun fly once a month at different places, she said, such as Fort Casey, Oak Harbor's City Beach or the South Whidbey Tilth Market.We're always looking for suggestions for new places where we can fly, Allen said. Whidbey Island has the potential to become a kite flying center like Ocean Shores, added Barnes, since there is usually wind here and the interest in kites is growing steadily. He began his kite business three years ago, because I was spending too much buying kites, he smiled. His business stayed pretty much on a level for a long time, he said, but this year it's booming.The kite festival and championship at Camp Casey Conference Center on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23-24, won't be Whidbey's first kite festival - festivals have have been held here other years, sponsored by mainland kite clubs. But it will be the first for a couple of years, and the kite club aims to make it an annual event. There is already a lot of community support, Marjorie said, including co-sponsorship of the festival by the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce. This is a unique event, Marjorie Taylor said, because it combines both a festival and the state sport kite competition.Kids will have a chance to make kites, and the festival part of the event gives anyone who is interested a chance to try their hand at kite flying. Anyone under 18 will need a parent's permission to take part in the sport kite flying lessons, but beginners will be able to enter a competition without an entry fee. People of all ages turn out to fly kites in competition, Marjorie said. The club's youngest competitor is 11, the oldest around 70. Competitive flying can get a little esoteric, but basically sport kites are flown with single lines or multiple lines and compete in separate events. Guests at the festival will include three of the top single line kite makers, Marjorie said. Other attractions will include free fly areas, where anyone can fly a kite, a used kite lot where kites will be for sale, and a raffle with $5,000 worth of kites and kite-related prizes. And there will be a whole lot of kite-flying going on, with all kinds of different kites.People come up with all different shapes, Barnes said. The creativity and imagination of kite makers astounds me, Marilyn said. And kite-flying is no longer as difficult and Charlie Brown made it out to be. New materials have made it possible to build kites so light that they can fly without wind, except for the movement of the kite flier. And it isn't too expensive to get into it. While competition kites can sell for up to $350, a good beginner kite can cost around $40.What's the attraction of kite flying? Marjorie, who got involved just four years ago and is already winning prizes, says she enjoys the competition, but the most important aspect of kite flying is that it's so relaxing. It's like fishing in the sky, she said. You are out there connecting with wind and nature. "

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