Kites take to the skies this weekend at Kite FestivalKites as large as a Volkswagen bus to something small enough to fit in a child’s hand will be on display here this weekend. The 18th Annual Jamestown Kite Festival is from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Meidinger Park in southwest Jamestown.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Kites as large as a Volkswagen bus to something small enough to fit in a child’s hand will be on display here this weekend.
The 18th Annual Jamestown Kite Festival is from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Meidinger Park in southwest Jamestown.
“We’ve really put Jamestown on the map as far as kiting events, because this is one of the premier events in the Midwest,” said Mike Gee, president of Wings on Strings, a North Dakota kite club and Kite Festival co-founder. “We have the biggest kite festival out of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming. There’s nothing out there that compares with us.”
Gee got the idea to expand the festival 18 years ago and tried for a few years offering people an opportunity to build their own kites and fly them. But he felt the turnout could be better.
“There’s something for everybody in kiting so I decided, let’s just make this a fun fly and have some activities and not be so structured,” he said.
Gee has constructed kites for more than two decades and has traveled to kiting events across the country. Every year he invites some of the people he meets to experience the Jamestown Kite Festival.
“I try to expose what we have here to other people,” he said. “I try to keep the variety coming and I think that’s what keeps the people of Jamestown interested in coming.”
It’s difficult to put an exact number on those who attend because there is no admission and people approach the park from all directions. But Parks and Recreation Director Doug Hogan said it’s somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people over the two days.
People from Illinois, California, Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Dakota and Canada have come to this event.
A pair of Wisconsinite kite enthusiasts is even making the trek to Jamestown for the first time to fly kites this weekend. A New Jersey woman even planned her trip to the West Coast so she could stop at the Kite Festival.
“Every year I don’t necessarily try to make the event bigger with more people,” Gee said. “I try to invite some different people from around the country.”
Those visitors with enormous custom-built kites are the ones Gee likes to invite. The ones who have been here before all say the same thing, he said.
“People love coming here,” Gee said. People who visit from out of state enjoy sharing their kite stories and meeting the people of Jamestown, he said.
Gee isn’t working solo here. To have a successful kite festival it takes a lot of involved parties to play their respective parts.
Last year air games from Victory Lutheran Church were added. The games will be here again on Saturday. Concessions will also be back as well as a disc jockey and a performance by Team 180GO, a trick kite-flying team.
Children again will have the opportunity to make their own kites.
Kites dropping candy will be back this year, and kite aerial photography will make its Jamestown debut this weekend.
“If you’ve never been, you got to come by and see it because it’s not what you would think of until you see these things,” said Chris Dodson, an event co-organizer for more than a decade.
The events planned make for a fun, family atmosphere, he said.
“It’s never boring and there’s something for everybody,” Dodson said. “It’s not just those diamond shape kites that people think of. There are big kites, miniature kites, sport kites, power kites, there’s art, there’s crafts, there’s kites that make music, all kind of things so it’s never boring.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com