Kite Fest wows Island crowd

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — One after another, individuals and teams of skilled performers took turns showcasing their polished kite flying skills in the day’s gusty and bumpy northwest wind.

From jazz and swing to classic rock and pop music, their choreographed routines left many spectators in awe.

Friday, organizers wrapped up the second day of their annual SPI Kite Fest, which drew in at least 1,000 attendees.

The last chance for spectators to visit the kite fest is today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the flats just north of the Convention Centre located at 7355 Padre Blvd.

“Come out and have fun,” SPI Kite Fest co-organizer and B&S Kites co-owner Bill Doan said. “The weather’s going to be better and the sun will be shining. So bring your lawn chairs and sunscreen and I’ll see you all out there.”

Three teams are scheduled to perform — Team KiteLife, Team Misfits and Team End of the Line.

A few Winter Texans who organizers say discovered their passion and talent for kite flying will be performing as well.

While watching the performances, attendees are able to shop for souvenir T-shirts, Girl Scout cookies and a variety of treats such as hotdogs, burgers, chips, drinks and cookies from Friends of Animal Rescue.

According to Doan, each year the event attracts many people from a variety of places such as Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Canada.

“I really enjoy this event and being with people that like my hobby,” Doan said. “It’s fun to see smiles on attendees’ faces. They love it.”

Kite fliers

Throughout the event, a variety of small and large kites hovered in the sky in an area near the road on Padre Boulevard.

Several kite fliers and makers such as Doug Larock, 67, from Yakima, Washington, monitored the wind levels in that area and switched some kites with others which could handle the strong winds better.

He has been attending the SPI Kite Fest with his wife for 17 to 18 years and has been flying kites and creating his own for nearly 30 years.

According to Larock, ideal wind levels for kite flying ranges from eight to 10 mph.

“On a good day the kite will just go up there and park,” he explained. “If it’s real smooth and steady, that kite will just fly in one spot.”

Larock and his wife enjoyed the day with their friends and fellow kite fliers and makers Phil, 54, and Barbara, 65, Burks from Portland, Oregon.

“I’d like to thank everybody here at South Padre for inviting us over and making us feel really welcome,” Phil said with a smile. “It’s a special place to visit.”

Indoor performances

The three-day festival kicked off Thursday evening with Indoor Kite Performances held at the SPI Convention Centre.

The lineup included an array of internationally known kite fliers such as John Barresi who holds 31 national championship titles and is the 2018 Open Individual Unlimited Ballet champion.

Barresi was joined by 2014 AKA National Indoor Champion James Fletcher from Baltimore, Md., and several other kite flyers from various places such as Washington, the United Kingdom and British Columbia.

According to Doan, more than 1,200 people attended the indoor event.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “If you ask anyone that went to it, they’ll tell you we are the biggest indoor kite festival in the U.S.A.”