With a helping hand from Mother Nature, kites will fill the sky above the Port of Brookings Harbor next weekend.

The Ninth Annual Southern Oregon Kite Festival is set to get underway at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21, said to Nita Rolfe, port marketing director.

Forty-one kite fliers from the western United States will converge on the port to display their aerial artistry and world-championship-level skills. Fliers will start arriving Thursday from Oregon, California, Colorado, Utah and Washington.

Last year, an estimated 15,000 people attended the two-day festival. Rolfe expects crowds to be just as big this year.

People began lining up for entrance to the festival which is free of charge as early as 8 a.m. last year.

Because of the limited parking available at the festival site, Curry Transportation will be shuttling people from the Chamber of Commerce office adjacent to the Port of Brookings Harbor boardwalk parking lot every half hour on both Saturday and Sunday.

This year, kites of all shapes and sizes will be the primary attraction of the festival, but other events and activities will make the weekend a busy one for participants, visitors and staff, Rolfe said.

The festival will take place on the large field directly behind Beachfront RV Park near Sporthaven Beach. The U.S. Coast Guard will post the American colors followed by the singing of the national anthem by Holly Curry.

There is no specific schedule as to when the kites will fly, as that is dependent upon the wind, but kites should be up most of the day until the closing ceremony at 5 p.m.

Sport kite flying is annually a crowd favorite at the festival, as are the flying of the giant, world-record kites up to 90 feet in length and 30 feet in height. Another exciting kite event is the Rockku kite battles between six-sided Japanese fighting kites.

Other events at the festival throughout the day will include free childrens kite building, a parade and a variety of food, craft and beverage vendors peddling their wares.

The festival is a family-oriented event, so no alcohol will be available or allowed at the festival site.

Rolfe said 300 kites will be given away free to children, split evenly between Saturday and Sunday.

Sundays schedule is identical to Saturdays with the exception that it will close an hour earlier at 4 p.m.

Saturdays festival events wrap up with the annual fliers banquet and auction at the Best Western Brookings Inn convention center beginning at 7 p.m. Rolfe reported on Friday morning that the banquet was nearly sold out.

In addition to the annual Yankee pot roast dinner, the auction will feature an ongoing video presentation of past kite festivals on big-screen televisions, produced by Jerry Jones Productions.

Auction items are always popular and evoke some fierce bidding, according to Rolfe. Items available this year include rounds of golf, gift certificates for food, clothing and various services, kites and kite feathers donated by the fliers, charter fishing trips, and automotive services.

Proceeds from the auction, plus limited-edition kite festival T-shirts and sweatshirts help to fund the annual event.

Raffles will be held throughout both days of the festival for items donated by local businesses, organizations and individuals.

Items can be viewed and raffle tickets can be purchased in the big tent at the festival site.

Banners announcing the festival are being put up in communities from Coos Bay south to Brookings.

Rolfe hopes businesses and people in the Brookings-Harbor community will help gussy-up the town too.

Were hoping the community will join the port in decorating the town, she said. We want to present our visitors with a festive atmosphere.

Another event held in conjunction with the kite festival will be the annual Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Pancake Breakfast on Sunday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The breakfast, served at the fire hall on Benham Road, is offered free to all the fliers. Cost for all others is $3 for adults and $2 for children.

The fliers each have their own specialities from competitive sports kites to aerial visuals, including:

David and Susan Gomberg of Neotsu who fly the giant kites including a 90-foot octopus, 70-foot caterpillar, and 30-foot-tall spinning crowns. The Gombergs fly their kites around the globe, attending as many as 50 kite festivals worldwide each year.

Brian Champie of San Ramon, Calif., a 50-year-old general contractor who flies California wasp kites. He is known as a stunt flier and will perform 20 or more aerial acrobatic tricks with his kites in any one session.

John and Mary Gappy of Colorado Springs, Colo., who met on a California kite field, fell in love, and were later married. Over the years the couple has moved their kite focus from flying dual-line kites to building unique single line kites and banners.

Johns kites are known for their bold asymmetrical graphics in black, white and red, while Marys hand-made banners feature blended sunset colors and developing optical effects in black, white and red.

Carl and Lisa Bragiel of Amity will be appearing at the Southern Oregon Kite Festival for the sixth time this summer. Carl is famous as one of only three people in North America who performs a one-man, multiple dual-line kite show The One Man Kite Team.

Carl and Lisa travel to kite festivals and special events with their show, leaving behind their home Hill of Beans Llamas with its 20 llamas, eight cats and Clifford the peacock.

Larry and Sharon Clark will participate in the kite festival, coming to the Port of Brookings Harbor from Florence.

Larry is in his fourth year of competitive flying, including a top-10 finish at the national championships in individual ballet and a first place regionally in experienced quad-line ballet.

For information about the Southern Oregon Kite Festival, call 541-469-2218 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, or visit the ports website at http://www.port-brookings-harbor.org.