By Kurt Madar
Pilot staff writer
Brookings 16th Annual Kite Festival was such a big deal, you could see it from space.
At least you could see Cindy and Rod Thrall's blue teddy bear kite, which might just be the only kite you can see from space.
"It went very well," said festival organizer Roger Thompson. "Saturday was the best wind they've had for a long time. I think it was a good financial hit for the community, especially with the closure of salmon fishing."
The festival took off at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Port of Brookings Harbor with the presentation of the color guard, the national anthem sung by Sue Gold, and synchronized kite flying of red, white and blue hyper-stack kites flown by the Bay Area Sundowner's kite team.
The kite field was packed for the festival. Spectators lined the field on either side sitting in chairs on the ground or just standing. The parking lots of both Sporthaven Beach and the port were full almost to bursting.
To rock and roll music and the savory smells of cooking noshes, festivalgoers watched kite-flying exhibitions, got a chance to see prototypes and could even purchase kites if they so desired.
Many of the kites being flown in swoops of color were designed and patented by the kite flyers.
"I would say there would have to have been 5,000 or 6,000 people at the festival," Thompson said. "The little shuttle bus had 481 passengers for Saturday alone."
Local businesses definitely saw an increase in business over the weekend.
"We've been full for four nights," Wild River Motor Lodge owner Ken Bryan said. "I did not get a chance to see the kite festival myself, I was too busy. I heard from some guests that it was a great time though, worth seeing."
Other local hotels, motels and R.V parks were also full to the brim.
"We were completely full Friday and Saturday," said Best Western Brookings Inn employee Shannon Quinn.
The kite festival draws spectators and kite flyers from around the world.
Grant Collings and his family, from Lincoln, Neb., were in Gold Beach over the weekend and made the trip to Brookings Saturday for a chance to see the kites in action.
"It was wonderful," Collings said. "We were in Gold Beach and saw an advertisement for the kite festival so we came down for the day."
All together 30 renown kite flyers were invited to take part in the two-day exposition.
"The kite festival is not a contest," Thompson said. "It's by invitation only. You can't just walk up and fly your kite. It's a big deal to be invited; every year people ask us to invite them to fly for the next year."
The invited kiters are hosted by members of the community. Many Wild Rivers Coast businesses donate money or services to ensure that the kite flyers are guests.
The kite festival is the largest invitational kite event in the United States.
According to Thompson, last weekend was one of the few weekends during the summer when there wouldn't be a competition being held somewhere.
That is why the invitations could be answered by renown kite teams such as Team iQuad and The Bay Area Sundowners, two of the top kite teams in the world.
"The Brookings Kite Festival was the best ever," Team iQuad leader John Barresi said. "It wasn't just the crowd size, or even the crowd's great attitude, it was also the camaraderie and dynamic at work among the performers."
Team iQuad will be in Berkeley this weekend for its kite festival with six extra members to the team.
Also responding to Brookings' invitations were Lam Hoac from Canada, one of the premier kite flyers and kite makers in the world, and Takako Kishi of Tokyo who is a member of the Japanese ladies' kite group, Team Geisha.
"It was a great, great festival," Kishi said. "The quality and warmth of the people, whether spectator or participant, was the best."
According to Barresi, there is a good chance Kishi will be back next year.
Not only were there kites, lots of kites, there were also craft booths and food that could be purchased.
"This is my first booth ever," said Anita Holser of Sierra Azul Glass out of Grants Pass. "It's fun. I mean I get to be at a festival."
Sierra Azul Glass featured stained glass from window hangings to mobile style stained glass artwork.
The Harbor Volunteer Fire Department had its annual pancake breakfast on Sunday that served 551 people.
"It went very well," said firefighter Susan Harmon. "We had a great turnout, especially considering our economy."
The pancake feed proceeds go directly to the Harbor Volunteer Firefighter Association. Last years profits were used to buy a new fire engine.
According to Harmon, this year's proceeds will be used to outfit that truck further with new equipment.
The annual kite festival dinner Saturday, according to organizer John Gabby, was a flying success.
"It was the largest group of people we have ever had at the banquet before," said Gabby.