Kites flew and waves crashed as kids ran up and down Morro Bay Beach during the 11th Annual Morro Bay Kite Festival last weekend. A two-day event, the festival features professional kite flyers with giant kites and demonstrations for spectators to enjoy.
The Morro Bay Kite Festival was founded and is directed by Shaun Farmer, a kite shop owner in Morro Bay. After selling kites at a festival in Paso Robles 11 years ago, he decided Morro Bay needed a festival of its own. Working with the city of Morro Bay, volunteer community organizations and vendors, the Kite Festival became a weekend for families to go outside and enjoy the whimsy of kite flying.
“My favorite part of this event is watching the kids and the parents interact with their kids and smiling and getting away from their electrical devices,”
Professional kite flyers travel from all over the county to fly their kites at the festival. From smaller trick kites to 50-foot kites, a large variety fly the Morro Bay skies.
Professional kite flyer Penny Lingenfelter has traveled across the world to places like Malaysia, South America, Canada and Mexico to fly kites. Through her unique style, she uses skits and costumes to tell stories with the kites.
Anthony Eichele is from Stockton, California and has flown dual line kites for 20 years. He’s also put on kite demonstrations for eight years. In his demonstrations, Eichele controls his kite with precision to make it fly in loops, turn sharply, flip and draw invisible shapes in the sky.
Explaining the art
Eichele explained three types of kite flying.
“We have pure precision flying which is flying straight lines and figures,” Eichele said. “The other is a kind we call freestyle, which is a blend of precision and trick flying. Trick flying is where we flip the kite at different angles and do flat spins and rolls. And the other one is just flat out trick flying, which is doing those rolls and flips and whatever you can think of.”
These tricks can be done by one person, showing off their skills and accuracy by controlling their kite in unpredictable wind. Tricks can also be a team effort and the kite’s flight pattern can often be choreographed to music. This was the case for team For-ce who used four kites to create their demonstration.
Using rock climbing-strength material, Richard Delisio and Ken Schulz flew large 50- to 100-foot kites on the beach. The two friends met in southern California at another kite festival. Many of their kites are shaped like sea creatures to keep with the location’s theme.
While many kite flyers take a relaxed approach, letting the wind move their kite naturally, professionals flying these large kites use more strength and control to avoid accidents.
“You’ve got to know what you’re doing,” Delisio said. “It’s not just a light-weight sport.”
Several charities came out during the weekend to support the festival. The Central Coast Funds for Children, a non-profit organization, provided free kites for kids to decorate and fly alongside the professionals.
“It provides a wonderful opportunity for parents to have a fun day with their kids,” Central Coast Funds for Children member Claudia Grant said. “And to see all our kites flying later on in the day, it’s just a wonderful feeling.”
Children of all ages ran along the water’s edge with their kites as their parents watched. For some, the day was about getting away from the stress of everyday life while for others, it was about doing what they love: flying kites.
“When you’re flying a kite, you just forget about all your stress, it goes up in the wind with the kite,” Farmer said.