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FLYING KITES AT THE PORT

BOB SERACK OF VANCOUVER, WASH., FLIES A KITE (Larry Ellis).
BOB SERACK OF VANCOUVER, WASH., FLIES A KITE (Larry Ellis).

By ANDREA BARKAN

Pilot Staff Writer

Thousands of people had their heads in the clouds this weekend during the 12th annual Southern Oregon Kite Festival at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Boat Basin Road became "Lawn Chair Lane" Saturday and Sunday as countless people pitched folding chairs on the kite field's edge and turned their gazes skyward.

"I've never seen anything like it," said June Carver, of Victoria, British Columbia.

Carver said she was visiting her brother and his wife in Grants Pass. They discovered the festival last year and thought is was fabulous, Carver said.

"It's like the kites have a mind of their own," she said.

"It's beautiful and it's extremely peaceful," Carver said. "You just feel all your stresses leave you."

All attentions were fixed on flyers Saturday morning. When performer Al Washington's red, white and blue kite took a brief nosedive into the field, an collective gasp rose sharply from the crowd.

Linda Flathau, of Hornbrook, Calif., watched Carl Bragiel's one-man/three-kites show intently.

"I didn't know a kite could do so many things," Flathau said. "It is just exquisite."

First-timers to the kite festival, Linda and her husband Denny Flathau brought their 9-year-old granddaughter along, who is visiting from Texas.

"She's amazed," Linda said. "I don't think she knew kites could do this either."

The festival's 36 flyers led their kites in aerial dances set to music.

"I didn't realize they were so artistic," Carver said. "I can't imagine the amount of work that goes into it.

"They seem like they love what they do," she said of the flyers.

Chances of bumping into an out-of-towner at the festival were about one in two.

Festival coordinator Nita Rolfe said about half the attendants were from out of the area.

Rolfe said an estimated 4,000 people attended Saturday, which was comparable to last year.

"It was a great event," she said.

Rolfe said the vendors, who were more plentiful than ever, found success at this year's festival.

"They did really well," she said. "Everybody was having a great time," Rolfe said.

Alexis and Wes Warne, owners of The Market Place on Chetco Avenue, spent their fourth year at the festival selling kites, flags and wind socks.

The couple handed out shiny Mardi Gras beads to passersby.

"This is where we have fun," Alexis said. "We get to socialize with the people."

Rolfe said the combination of local sponsorships, raffles and money raised at Saturday night's Kite Auction Banquet paid for the festival.

Most port staff members volunteered their time to run the festival, she said.

The festival continues to grow, and Rolfe said more volunteers are needed for next year.

"It's a festival that needs to have a regular volunteer committee," Rolfe said.

To get involved in next year's kite festival, call Rolfe at the Port of Brookings Harbor: (541) 469-2218.

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