Nearly perfect weather embraced kite flyers and families Saturday and Sunday at the 29th Kite Flight festival near Callaway.
Professionals, amateurs and novices put hundreds of kites in the air, flying on the agreeable breezes. A few drops of rain fell early Saturday morning, but the clouds broke up, with just enough remaining in the sky to keep the hot sun away.
The festival began in 1991 and has since hosted visitors from at least 21 nations and 29 states. This year, a visitor came from a new place – a Caribbean country, organizer Shirley Trout said.
Trout was flying high Monday after the great weekend. She told the Bulletin the parking lot was “delightfully” full both days. Some flyers stayed in the field for several hours, continuing to enjoy the wind and flying after the day was officially over.
The 200-acre pasture, just a few miles from Callaway, is transformed into an array of kites. Trout said the shape of the field resembles a kite from the air. The entry way is lined with 27 state flags and 19 (now 20) national flags.
About 20 professional kite-flyers came to fly this year, including a team with a 132-foot-long kite that looked like an octopus and required a half-dozen people to launch it into the air, Trout said.
Trout said the Kite Flight is so family oriented that it is a challenge to promote because to some, it seems too insignificant and inexpensive to be entertaining.
In addition to providing a place to fly kites in the best of company, a homemade cannon loaded with candy sprayed goodies across the field twice a day. A giant replica of a caterpillar, supported by lightweight rings, rolled around the ground. Children like to lie in its path and let it roll over them, Trout said. There were pony rides and in a lower section of the field, children ran around just for the fun of it.
In the amateur area, a kite flyer asked children to hold the kite string for a few minutes while he took care of some other things, so the kids experienced the fun of kite-flying.
Many people came just to watch, talk and visit with friends new and old.
The festival grew from the concept of Callaway resident Connie May, who found help from Don Murphy of Omaha, a regional director of the American Kite-fliers Association and his counterpart Scott Skinner of Colorado.
May passed away in 2009. Trout has been one of a half-dozen organizers for about 11 years.
Next year for the 30th festival, Callaway is expecting a bigger crowd. Invitations are being sent near and far.
“We are recruiting internationally,” Trout said. “We are expecting a larger number of people.”
Callaway lies about 30 miles of north of Cozad as the crow flies. Its motto is the “Heart of the Seven Valleys.” The seven valleys region is laced with peaceful little creeks flowing into the South Loup River, the town’s website says.
The cost for the Kite Flight is just $5 per person or $25 per family.