Rockaway Beach kite flyers will be testing the summer winds for the first time in its 40-plus year history.
By Max Kirkendall
For the Headlight-Herald
The new Rockaway Beach Kite and Art Festival is gearing up for its Aug. 17-19 runtime. The kite event, which typically takes place in May, was moved to August this year and combined with the annual Art Festival to add even more fun to the weekend.
“Because of some differences with the city, we are combining the two this year, so you’re basically getting two festivals in one,” event organizer Kristine Hayes said.
Kite enthusiasts have looked forward to the event landing on Memorial Day weekend each year. However, because of the city’s new resolution prohibiting private event use of the Wayside during Memorial Day weekend, the vendors that help fund the event would have to be spread out instead of in one location.
The annual event, which is sponsored by the American Kitefliers Association, features competitions like the nicest kite, the kite that drags on the ground the longest before going airborne and many other events. American Kitefliers Association is the largest organized group of kiters in the world and travels all over to spread the joy of kiting to people of all ages and skills.
The Rockaway Beach Kite Festival plays host to both professional and amateur kite fliers alike and encourages everyone to get in on the action. The festival offers the opportunity for children to build and learn to fly small kites during special classes.
In addition to the kites, the festival also features live music, kite exhibitions, an array of incredible vendors and artisans and a wide variety of food all weekend. Hayes said it would be a full weekend of kite flying fun as the kites take flight all three days.
“Friday and Sunday are our open kite flying days, which are open to everyone,” Hayes said. “On Saturday, there will be performing artists flying about 8-12 synchronized kites all at once; it’s a really great show.”
Avid coastal kite flyer Rep. David Gomberg, who runs Gomberg Kite Productions, International, a kite manufacturer, retailer and event management partnership, said the Rockaway Beach Festival is one of the most unique on the Oregon coast.
“Every festival has its own personality,” Gomberg said. “The Rockaway Festival is on a small beach so you can go right up to the kite fliers and talk with them, so it’s an intimate festival in that sense.”
David and his wife Susan Gomberg are accomplished fliers and international travelers who are known for their big show kites. Show kites are a staple of the Rockaway Beach Festival and according to Gomberg, it is something you have to see.
“There will be a lot of show kites there like big animals such as octopus, birds, etc.,” Gomberg said. “But there will also be a lot of maneuverable kites there as well.”
Fearing the event may be heading toward extinction over the past few years, Hayes and the Rockaway Beach community are looking to keep the tradition alive for years to come.
“These festivals are all about community, family, tradition and fun,” Hayes said. “We see a lot of adults acting like kids again, which is fun to see.”