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Imagination, wind help kites take flight at festival
Sure sign of spring
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Ellen Bell of Ridgeway gets her kite soaring as her daughter, Anastasia Bell, 4, frolicks with her kite trailing behind her at Kite Day on Saturday at the Henry County Administration Building. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly,” movie star Lauren Bacall once said. And there was plenty of imagination among the 867 people who attended the Piedmont Kite Festival on Saturday.

People of all ages flew kites of many shapes, designs and colors beneath puffs of clouds in the blue sky over Jack Dalton Park.

Some participants made their own kites at a kite-creation station.

Whitney Rigney, 5, colored a picture of her and her Axton family (sister Shelby Rigney, 8, and parents Jay and Angela Rigney) bank-fishing in what could have been the Smith River. The picture also included flowers, a kite, hearts, birds and butterflies. Whitney attached streamers of various colors to the kite, which volunteers helped her assemble.

On her kite, Shelby painted her and her dad hunting in a tree stand (and indicating that she bagged a deer) and her and her mom bank-fishing.

Angela Rigney said the girls are pretty much beginner kite fliers, but they were able to keep their kites in the air several minutes at a time and the family had fun. “It’s a good day to get outside, beautiful weather,” she said.

“It’s fun to watch all the kids do this,” Jay Rigney said of the festival. He is a maintenance worker for Henry County Parks and Recreation. His work assignments during the festival included helping set up and take down equipment and helping get kites out of trees, he said.

The Virginia Museum of Natural History, through the Martinsville Henry County Community Nature Initiative and in partnership with Henry County Parks and Recreation, hosted the free kite festival, according to online information.

The fourth annual festival was an opportunity for families to enjoy nature together, said Glenda Hairston, out-of-school education coordinator at VMNH. Also, she said, “everyone has flown a kite at some point in life,” and the festival gives those people a chance to reminisce.

It had been years since Amber Goodin of Martinsville had flown a kite, but she not only remembered how but was giving tips to her sons, Ashton and Zane Gardner, 10 and 7, who had not flown kites before.

“One (of them) needs to learn some patience. He needs to practice,” mom said.

The other son described kite flying as “pretty cool.”

Amber’s mother, Rhonda Mills of Martinsville, was with them. They all like to do outside activities.

“I’m a nature person. I have to be outside even in winter,” Mills said. She added that she tries to teach the boys to appreciate nature too through such things as playing outdoor sports, bike riding, gardening and climbing trees.

A bit earlier at the festival, what looked like a hawk was flying overhead nearby. Actually it was a kite with a 78-inch wing span that David Gillie of Danville bought in Myrtle Beach, S.C. “It takes an 8 mph wind to keep it up. I had it up but it didn’t stay up,” he said.

When he flew the kite at the beach, seagulls attacked it, he said.

Gillie was standing near his 4-year-old son, James David Gillie, who also likes flying the hawk kite. James David uses words like “wow” and “awesome” to describe kite-flying, dad said.

Davy Patterson of Ridgeway also bought his red-white-and-blue 3-D jet kite at Myrtle Beach. He flew the kite up to an estimated 325 feet in the air Saturday and kept it up for as much as 20 minutes at a time, he said.

“I just enjoy the peace” of kite flying, he said. He added that at the beach, he sometimes ties the kite to something stationary and lets it fly all day.

“I think it’s (the kite festival) great for kids and parents too,” said Patterson, whose 12-year-old son, Bryson, was with him. Bryson also flew the jet kite at the festival. He said it’s fun “if it doesn’t get too windy, which it did.”

The jet kite was one of the kites that caught the eye of Nancy Essary of Collinsville.

“It’s fun to watch all the different kites. It’s (good) to see the kids smile,” she said as she flew a kite containing a spinning oval within a spinning circle.

Another kite that caught her eye was a parafoil stunt kite that looked like it was dragging the guy who was flying it, said Essary, who attended the festival with her husband, T.L. Essary, and children, Emily Essary, 11, Alex Essary, 14, and Brandon Sanwick, 13. Everybody was having fun, she said.

Brandon said he was enjoying dive-bombing the parachute-like kite he was flying.

At the time, T.L. was sitting by their English setter Cody and taking pictures. He said he was enjoying “seeing all the kites, colors and kids having fun.”

In addition to kite flying, kite creation, games and a kite-decorating competition, the festival included folk music by Kim and Jimbo Cary, face painting, rocket making provided by Martinsville city Schools’ SEMAA program, and a variety of activities provided by the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club of Martinsville and Henry County, Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness and Patrick Henry Community College.


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