Annual kite festival taking flight

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Butterflies, dragons and Disney characters are expected to fill the sky at an Okotoks park as residents get their kites in flight at a popular family event this weekend.

The Town of Okotoks is inviting residents and visitors to head over to Riverside Park for the annual Kite Day Festival April 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event draws more than 1,000 people to the park throughout the day.

“It’s great to see the faces of family members young and old,” said Mark Doherty, Okotoks community events specialist. “Families often fly their kites for a little bit, grab a bite to eat, have a picnic and play at the playground. It’s a good setting for a family event.”

Doherty said kite flying is an event people of all ages can enjoy.

“It’s a simple activity that you can converse through,” she said. “Whether you’re a first time kite flyer or seasoned kite flyer it doesn’t matter. It’s getting out to enjoy the day doing something that’s simple and free. It’s cool to see the different shapes and sizes and colours of kites in the air.”

The Town of Okotoks is bringing professional kite flyers with The Kite Guys to the festival again this year to offer some pointers and give demonstrations. The Kite Guys will also sell a variety of kites and wind socks at the event.

“What we provide is demonstrations on single line kites, dual line kites and quad line kites,” said Bud Taylor, owner of The Kite Guys. “We show very unique single line form – giant fish and alligators and giant weird things. If we have the wind for them we will put them up there.”

The kite-flying professionals often draw a crowd, said Taylor.

“People usually say, ‘Wow, how do you do that?’” he said. “Everybody is very inquisitive. They don’t realize you can do that with a lot of these kites. Showing them how to fly a kite is always fun.”

Weather plays a big factor in the success of Okotoks’ Kite Day Festival, which Doherty said isn’t always cooperative.

The family event was initially scheduled during National Kite Week in early April, but it was moved to later in the month.

“When I first started here, the first year it was in snow so we moved it to the end of April,” he said. “We’ve been blessed with the weather the past five years. We only had one day where we had very little wind and I believe it was last year. We typically have beautiful days and we hope that trend continues.”

If the day brings rain or snow, Doherty encourages families to brave the elements, as the festival will take place no matter what the weather holds.

“It’s a great family outing for kids to be outside with their parents and grandparents flying kites,” he said. “It’s in an ideal location with no trees in a big field. It’s the perfect spot and it’s parallel with 32nd Avenue so it’s very visible to the public.”

Hamburgers and hot dogs will be available for purchase and youngsters can have their faces painted.

For more details go to okotoks.ca

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