By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid has made a name for itself with its annual Kites Over Enid event each year and the attempts to break a world record for number of kites flown simultaneously.
The event accomplished a North American record in 2010, which played a part in American Kite Fliers Association bringing its annual national convention to Enid next week. The 35th annual convention will be Monday through Oct. 6, and about 200 kite enthusiasts are expected to attend.
There will be five marked flying fields behind Autry Technology Center, 1201 W. Willow. Fields 1-4 are for AKA members only, and the public is encouraged to watch all events. Field 5 is a public flying field, where the public can bring kites and fly them along with the AKA members. If you come to the flying fields, AKA suggests you wear a hat, use sunscreen, do not wear dress shoes and bring a lawn chair to be able to sit and relax while watching the kites soar over Enid.
The AKA convention is an annual gathering of kite enthusiasts, artists and competitors. It ranks as one of the largest kite gatherings in the world. Convention activities include educational workshops, games, displays and grand national competitions for kite making and sport kite flying. This will be the first national convention to come to Enid since the Enid Convention & Visitors Bureau was developed.
Marcy Jarrett, ECVB director, said she is excited the kite convention is coming to Enid. Jarrett said she expects 150 to 175 people, with more arriving toward the end of the week for the awards ceremonies on the weekend.
“They will be competing starting Tuesday afternoon, and it continues through Saturday. This is a big deal, it really is,” Jarrett said.
She said the public may go fly kites at any time during the convention. One field will be open for the public to fly kites. Events featured at the convention include sport kites and team kite ballet, which is choreographed to music. Jarrett said participants had to win other competitions to participate in the national ones in Enid.
“This is family activity. Grab the kids, and after school go out and watch them at Autry Tech,” Jarrett said. “I hope the public will take advantage of the opportunity to fly kites, have fun, get outdoors and see some amazing kites.”
Jarrett said the convention is here because Enid has a steady wind and nice fields behind Autry Tech.
Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance, said there are two significant ways to look at the convention. It is the first time he can remember when Enid hosted a national convention, especially one of this magnitude in the community.
“I think this is a great example of how our tourism process is working and the city is being proactive on tourism,” Kisling said.
Secondly, the event started with Kites Over Enid and the attempt to set the world record for kites in the air at one time.
“While that effort fell a little short, it put Enid on the map, highlighting the wind resource we have here and wind energy,” Kisling said.
Kisling also gave credit to Stan Hicks and Kites Over Enid, and to Jarrett and ECVB.
Phil Broder, spokesman for American Kite Association, said the convention is rotated around the country, and every third year one is located in the central part of the nation.
“Every third year we end up somewhere in the middle of America. The last one was in Minnesota where it was cold,” Broder said.
AKA selected Enid because of the Kites Over Enid events, and one of AKA’s past presidents, Richard Dermer, of Stillwater, is a promoter of the area. Other reasons for selecting Enid are that Northern Oklahoma College Enid has a facility large enough for indoor kite flying, availability of outdoor space provided by Autry Tech and banquet and reception rooms at Cherokee Strip Conference Center.
Convention organizers are hoping for about 200 people, but Broder said the numbers will fluctuate during the week depending on which events are being held. Some people do not stay the entire week.
American Kite Association was founded in 1964 with the mission to educate the public about the art, history, technology and practice of building and flying kites. This is the second time the convention has been held in Oklahoma. Tulsa hosted the kite enthusiasts in 1995.