Kites take flight
KEENE VALLEY – Tim Steele of Bristol, Vermont, held the Tinker Bell kite in his hands as his daughter Una, 3, ran as fast as she could down the field. Once released, the kite jumped up and began to soar high into the air.
There was no lack of dads helping their sons and daughters launch kites into the air, many for the first time, on Sunday, which was Father’s Day and also Kite Fest in Keene Valley. Around 500 friends and family attended Kite Fest, according to the organizers. There was also local vendors and live music.
Kite Fest is organized by East Branch Friends of the Arts. It’s the seventh year the group has held the festival on Marcy Field in Keene Valley that draws people in from near and far.
Leslie Shipps, of Keene Valley, is an organizer of Keene Valley’s Kite Fest. She said the plan was to coincide the event with the first day of farmers market, and it just happened to also fall on Father’s Day.
“Very often today the father has had the end of the kite until it gets up in the air,” Shipps said.
Shipps said the festival began in 2008, when East Branch Friends of the Arts thought it would be a family-friendly event for the area.
“It just seems to be growing ever since,” Shipps said.
Rob Hoffman, 39, of Plattsburgh, was teaching his son Escher, 5, how to fly a kite.
“This is our Father’s Day outing,” Hoffman said.
Matt Baldwin, 43, and Sam Baldwin, 11, of Keene, were also enjoying some quality time. It’s the third year they’ve attended Kite Fest together.
“We’ve had this kite for three years. It’s a pretty cool one,” Matt Baldwin said. “It’s just fun because you get to see everyone else’s kites and how high you can get it in the sky.”
In the afternoon, children and parents competed in bol races, which were set up by the New York Kite Enthusiasts and organizers. A bol kite is a parachute-shaped kite that gets dragged behind someone while they’re running.
Members of the NYKE were showing off some fancy kites. Gary Sharp is a member of the 50-to-60 person kite enthusiast group. Sharp was flying a red cody box kite, shaped like a box. It drew a crowd of onlookers.
“We go anyplace,” Sharp said. “We fly all over the Northeast. We go to Canada. We have members that travel overseas.”
The wind was off and on Sunday, with strong gusts and then quiet periods without much of a breeze. He said that’s normal for places like Keene Valley.
“That’s life in the mountains,” Sharp said. “The best places are near large bodies of water like Oswego and Long Island.”
Sharp said going to new places and meeting new people was what made it so much fun. He met his wife at a kite festival.
“It’s just so much fun for the whole family,” he said.