bol kitesGo Fly a Kite!


Today’s kite festivals

have a variety of activities

and a vast array of colorful flying objects.

Story by Judy Fleagle

THE YOUNG BOY on the beach flew his stunt kite to the accompaniment of music, and every time it swooped near the ground, the crowd held its breath. Skillfully, he kept it moving until his performance was complete. After much applause by the appreciative crowd, the attention turned to two teams getting their large Rokkaku kites airborne. Then the battle was on—back and forth, back and forth. The announcer’s excited comments kept the crowd involved, and cheers mixed with groans until one of the impressive six-sided kites bit the dust—I mean, hit the sand—and the battle was over.

Kite festivals typically last from two to seven days, have professional fliers, and draw crowds that number in the hundreds each day. Most festivals have both individual and team demonstrations and competitions. The larger festivals boast special events such as arches (60 to 80 kites connected on a common line and flying in an arch-shaped formation) and spectacular kite trains with 200 to 300 small kites that fly in formation. Large inflatables, often in animal shapes, and bols, 6- to 10-foot-high or larger parachute-like wind devices, are often used as ground decoration, but if the wind cooperates, they become part of the show. Inflatable Teddy Bears and green frogs start flying above you, and young people harnessed to bols race against the wind in an event called the “running of the bols.”

The coast hosts major festivals at three locations: Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula and Oregon’s Lincoln City and Brookings–Harbor. The first two sites are also the location of indoor kite festivals held in cooler months. And Rockaway Beach puts on a smaller kite festival on the beach during the summer. In recognition of the Oregon and Washington coasts as being premier kite-flying areas, a World Kite Museum is located on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Spectators at a kite festival may bring their kites and fly in “free fly” areas. Those wishing to participate in a festival should make contact ahead of time. If, heaven forbid, there is no wind at a kite festival, activities will be rescheduled when the wind picks up.


Long Beach

Washington State International Kite Festival
August (check web link for new dates)

THIS WEEK-LONG KITE celebration is a mix of demos and competitions by leisure and professional fliers. On Monday, the more involved activities such as kite trains and arches open the festival. As the week progresses, events range from solo kite ballet demos to Rokkaku battles with teams of five or six members. On Wednesday, several children’s and senior activities take place, Thursday is handcrafted kite day, and on Friday and Saturday, fireworks light the sky after dark. On Friday, enjoy the lighted-kite night-fly prior to the fireworks. And these are only a few of the many events planned. Sunday through Thursday events take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, events continue into the evening and end with the fireworks. (360-642-4020;

Windless Kite Festival
January (check web link for new dates)

This three-day indoor kite festival takes place at the Long Beach Elementary School gym where there is no wind. It’s the movement—sometimes extreme movement—of those pulling the kite lines that keeps the kites above the floor. There will be choreographed solo, duet, and trio performances to music. Single-line fighters and gliding kites, plus kites in tandem, will also be part of the show. Skilled kite fliers come from all over the country and Canada.


Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce Kite Festival
May (check web link for new dates)

THE KITE FESTIVAL at Rockaway Beach has been going on for about a quarter century and is primarily a family event. Each year on the third full weekend in May, members of the Associated Oregon Kiters help children build small kites and learn how to fly them. It’s not a competitive event, but Sacagawea silver dollars are given out for the nicest kite, the kite that drags on the ground the longest before becoming airborne, and for a number of other reasons until all children have received one. Anyone who wants to bring a kite and fly it is welcome.

Come to the beach and look for flying kites and colorful flags that will be anchored in the sand. Several vendors will be set up with everything from sunglasses to edible elephant ears for sale. Festival activities take place Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (503-355-8108; www.rockaway

Lincoln City

Indoor Kite Festival
March (check web link for new dates)

bol race

INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN PREFORMERS are generally on hand for this high-energy indoor festival at Taft High School (3780 Spyglass Ridge Drive). Here the performances alternate with demonstrations and teaching. If this is a skill you want to master, bring your kite and get out on the floor. On Saturday afternoon, the American Kitefliers Association ’s Indoor Competition adds more excitement to the festival. Activities for kids include kite making, flying lessons, and playing with balsa wood gliders.
Events take place Friday 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $2 per person, $5 per family. Bring a donation of non-perishable food and receive 50 percent off admission price. (800-452- 2151;

Summer Kite Festival - June

Fall Kite Festival - October

These longstanding events celebrate both professional and leisure kite fliers at the D River State Wayside and are known for some of the largest, most colorful “show kites” in the world. “Oodles of Octopi,” the theme for both festivals, reflects the emphasis on big show kites. This year Lincoln City hopes to break the record of “the most octopi in the sky” held by Ocean Shores, Washington, where they put up 20 last year.

At both festivals, featured fliers demonstrate their flying skills throughout the weekend, and scheduled activities include kite-making for children, a children’s parade, running of the bols, and a stuffed-animal drop. If conditions permit, kite buggy and kite-surfing demos will provide a look at unique forms of kite-powered fun. Activities run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at both festivals.

World Kite Museum & Hall of Fame

As the only kite museum in North America, the World Kite Museum is dedicated to the more than 2,000-year-old history of kites, kite makers, and famous kite fliers. Its collection includes 1,600 kites from several countries, including working kites used in battlefields, kites large enough to fill a wall, and others so small they fit in the palm of your hand. The Hall of Fame honors 41 inductees, including Benjamin Franklin, who conducted electricity experiments with a metal key tied to a kite line. The museum also has extensive archival materials, as it is the repository for the archives of the American Kitefliers Association.

The World Kite Museum offers kite-making workshops and tours. The gift shop offers kites and related items. The museum is open year-round from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays and Thursdays from October through April. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, and $3 children. The museum is located at 303 Sid Snyder Drive in Long Beach. (360-642-4020;—J.F.



Southern Oregon Kite Festival

July (check web link for new dates)

THE SOKF HAS grown to become the largest invitational kite festival in the U.S., with at least 25 renowned kite fliers and kite makers invited each year. Those invited are guests of the community with all expenses paid. In turn, they produce a memorable two-day show at the Port of Brookings–Harbor. With no competitions, it’s all performances. Individuals and teams exhibit their aerial skills and create an atmosphere of fun and excitement.
A special feature for children is the kite-building workshop. Another popular activity is the Auction Banquet on Saturday evening where kite fliers and kite makers contribute collectible kites and memorabilia. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and the Auction Banquet begins at 6 p.m. (541-469-2444; Brookings–Harbor

Oregon Coast Magazine - March/April 2008


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