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Annual Rockaway Beach Kite and Art Festival Returns to Oregon Coast

Published 6/09/24 at 7:05 p.m.
By Andre' Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Annual Rockaway Beach Kite and Art Festival Returns to Oregon Coast

(Rockaway Beach, Oregon) – A colorful host of angels? No, not really. They're monstrously gigantic, however. Wriggling, shimmying in the sky, there's perhaps dozens of them in bright hues above, with whimsical, fantastical shapes. One may even be a massive whale floating in the sky above the surf. (Photos courtesy Rockaway Beach Chamber)

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You don't see that every day on the Oregon coast.

When you can see it, however, is this coming Father's Day weekend, June 14, 15 and 16 at Rockaway Beach – that long stretch of intermittently-appearing beach town that's nudged between Garibaldi and little Wheeler. The 48th Annual Rockaway Beach Kite and Art Festival is a beloved coastal tradition that brings together kite enthusiasts, artists, and families for a weekend of colorful skies and creative expression.

And it kicks into high gear this weekend at the Ocean's Edge Wayside in the middle of Rockaway Beach. Start and end times of the Annual Rockaway Beach Kite and Art Festival are: Friday 12 pm - 6 pm; Saturday 10 am - 6 pm; Sunday 10 am - 2 pm.

You'll find both professional and amateur kite fliers converging on Rockaway Beach, showcasing an array of magnificent kites. From intricate designs to magical shapes, the skies come alive with color and movement. Participants compete in friendly, unofficial contests, vying for awards like the nicest kite or the longest drag on the ground before takeoff. Children can join in the fun by building and flying their small kites during special classes.

Food and live music – along with artisan vendors – are also a big part of what's going on at this Oregon coast staple. A variety of yummy items will be available from various booths. Expect performers and indie-made artisan goodies to purchase.

Now in its 48th year, the festival got its start back in 1976 (the year Eno and Phil Manzanera released the landmark 801 Live album). It's now a much-cherished part of Oregon's coastal heritage. Put on with the sponsorship of the American Kitefliers Association, the event has become a highlight of the summer season, drawing in hundreds to the little beach burgh. The group is the largest such collection of high-flying enthusiasts in the world, and here it brings the joy of kiting to people of all ages and skill levels.

How this whole spectacle of the Annual Rockaway Beach Kite and Art Festival is achieved is rather interesting. With flying rigs these sizes, kite-flyers have large anchors they have to embed in the sand in order to anchor them. First they dig a hole in the wet sand area of the beach – dry sand will not hold. They then drop the anchor in (often a net of some kind) and cover it with the wet sand.

Having strong gloves is also a requirement as the massive chords that hold them can burn your hands easily.

Designing and constructing these fantastic beasts is no easy feat, either. It's a delicate, intricate process which involves – yes, you guessed it – a lot of sewing. Material used is often stuff that comes under names like Schikarex, Chikara or Skytex.

See the Rockaway Beach site or call (503) 355-8108.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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