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News arrow News arrow Local News arrow KITE FESTIVAL GETS BIGGER, BETTER

KITE FESTIVAL GETS BIGGER, BETTER Print E-mail
June 19, 2001 11:00 pm

Organizers of the Ninth Annual Southern Oregon Kite Festival are optimistic the event will offer more entertainment this year than in the previous eight years.

The celebration, scheduled for July 21-22 at the Port of Brookings Harbor, will feature more of just about everything, according to Nita Rolfe, port marketing director and festival coordinator.

We have 41 confirmed fliers this year, she said. We have more vendors than ever before 30 vendors to date.

And we have more sponsors at least 150. And we expect more people than ever before.

The festival, which starts on Saturday at 10 a.m. and will run until approximately 5 p.m., will be located on the green space just behind Beachfront RV Park.

In addition to some of the best kite flying in the world, there will be kite making demonstrations, activities for children, food and family fun, according to Rolfe.

Saturday evening the annual Kite Auction dinner at the Best Western Brookings Inn Convention Center begins at 7 p.m.

Rolfe said Port Commissioner Ken Brytus will serve as master of ceremonies for the dinner and auction, with assistance from Steve OBrien, one of the festivals original founders.

The dinner will feature a main course of Yankee pot roast and will be preceded by a social hour at 6 p.m.

Rolfe said an added feature for this years dinner and auction will be a video presentation of kites on large-screen TVs by Jerry Jones Productions, which will be running all evening at the convention center.

Auction donors include the kite fliers and local merchants, Rolfe said. Donated items include signature kites, kite feathers, charter fishing trips, a limited framed-edition of this years festival logo designed by Whitney Rolfe, seafood baskets, and lots of surprises, she said.

OBrien said anyone who plans on attending the dinner and auction on Saturday evening needs to act fast.

Tickets are limited and go fast every year, he said. Tickets will be available beginning July 2 at the Port of Brookings Harbor office.

The Harbor Fire Department will sponsor a pancake breakfast Sunday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Fliers eat for free, Rolfe said. The breakfast is held at the departments fire hall and is open to the public.

Rolfe said she has received a lot of assistance from various community members in putting this years festival together.

She specifically mentioned Jack Doyle, who has voluntarily solicited sponsors and donors, and Peggy Reitz, who has been a key coordinator for all the festival events since the first year.

And I want to thank the community for bringing this all together, Rolfe said. They always stand behind us.

They help make it bigger and better each year.

OBrien, a former Brookings resident who presently lives in Veneta, said the festival is the fulfillment of something he wanted for the community for many years.

It was my dream to have a festival here, he said. Along with Larry and Lynn Goodman (former Brookings residents), we approached the community in 1993 about hosting a kite festival.

It has always been a community event with the community involved. We couldnt have done it without the sponsorships.

OBrien said the goal of the festival has always been to make it accessible to everyone.

Its a free event, he said. There is no entrance fee and no charge for the kids events like kite building, wind toys, and candy and kite giveaways.

Its a good family event for everyone from infants to those 100-years old or more.

OBrien described the festival as a kite circus. It features the best-of-the-best fliers and builders, with the flying choreographed to music.

He said the fliers are among the best in the world.

Its a chance to see world champions, OBrien said. There are some pretty awesome fliers who come regularly.

One of the featured fliers at this summers festival will be David Gomberg of Gomberg Kite Productions International in Neotsu. The world champion and now five-time president of the American Kite Fliers Association has made the sport his life.

I first became interested when I entered the Kite Flying Championships at Albert Einstein Junior High School in Sacramento when I was 13, he said. I have been doing events ever since in one form or another.

Gomberg became hooked on kite flying after winning his first festival competition.

In the late 70s, I came out to the Oregon coast (he was living in Salem at the time) and stumbled into my first kite festival, he said. I was enticed on to the beach and into competing, and ended up winning the contest.

The prize was a two-line maneuverable kite.

The kite he won forever changed his perspective on kite flying and life.

Suddenly, instead of just putting a kits into the sky and smiling at it, Gomberg said, I was driving it. It changed my life.

I started flying stunt kites in my spare time, going to more festivals and meeting other fliers.

In just a few years, Gomberg went from just flying to being involved in the kite industry.

In the mid-80s, I published my first book on flying two-line kites, he said. By the end of the 80s my book was making more money for me than my job was making, so I left my job.

Now my wife (Susan) and I own our own kite business and I spend all my time promoting kite flying or just flying kites.

Gomberg travels the globe flying kites. This year he will visit France, England, Australia, Spain and Malaysia, plus numerous festivals in North America.

His kite flying has come full circle in a sense, as he now is challenged by flying a different form of kites.

My focus has gone from the two-line sports kites to flying, Gomberg said, to flying kites to smile at, theyre just bigger now.

I now specialize in the big kites, ones you can park a school bus inside.

This will be the fourth Southern Oregon Kite Festival for Gomberg, and he plans to fly as many of his giant kites as possible, depending on the cooperation of the wind. He intends to bring his 90-foot octopus, 70-foot caterpillar and 30-foot-tall spinning crowns.

And even though the kite master has competed and participated in festivals worldwide, he considers the Brookings-Harbor event one of the best.

The festival is a jewel, he said. Even though it is relatively far from any major population centers, it draws a group of the best kite fliers and kite makers.

As a guy who goes to 50 kite festivals in a year, some of the biggest and best in the world, you need to know you have something really special here.

The community should be very proud of it.

The festival has grown at a steady pace, according to OBrien.

In 1993, we had between 4,000 and 5,000 in attendance, he said. Last year we were packed with up to 15,000 people showing up. They were lined up at 8:30 in the morning each day last year.

Its wonderful to see it still going strong nine years later.

The festival has spawned a cult following of sorts, according to OBrien.

Many of those who come are familiar with the fliers, like the Bay Area Sundowners, he said, or Carl Braigle who flies three sports kites at one time.

People come to see the big, world-record kites, from 80 to 90 feet long, or the Rockku battles with six-sided Japanese fighting kites.

The port is key to the success of the festival, according to OBrien.

The port has always been involved, he said. They have become more and more involved over the years.

Nita does a great job.

 

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