As though on cue Sunday, the clouds dissipated, the rain halted and the sun shone high above Amend Park, creating a spectacular canvas for the Kite Fest.
While many of the attendees did their best to get their kites airborne, 6-year-old Carson Hayashida was on a mission all his own.
After successfully launching the snake-inspired kite, an anxious Carson peered up at his father and asked, “Now, how do we get it down?”
“We don’t want it to come down, son,” a patient Andrew Hayashida explained.
The father-son effort marked only the second time the youngster had flown the kite — and the first beyond the confines of his backyard. As he kept an ever-watchful eye on the kite, he explained that it was a precious gift from the Easter Bunny. He did not want to lose it.
The second annual Kite Fest attracted varying degrees of kite fliers ranging from the novice to the highly skilled — and nearly every age on the birthday spectrum.
Kite Fest was sponsored by the Yellowstone River Parks Association and SkyWindWorld Foundation, a nonprofit organization that organizes kite exhibits in major public venues.
Also attending was John Pollock, 67, of Billings, an award-winning kite maker. In 2004, 2007 and 2009, he received the Grand National Champion Kitemakers Award at the American Kitefliers Association Convention. In 2009, he was awarded the Lee Toy Award for the Kite Artist of the year. He has been invited to festivals around the world — Canada, Italy, France, Australia and England — to fly his hand-painted kites. A longtime kiting enthusiast, Pollock hand-paints fabric with elaborate and colorful designs and showcases them around the world.
“My kite-making coincided with my children going off to college,” Pollock said with a chuckle. “I didn’t have anybody to play with anymore.”
On Sunday, he was home, showcasing his talents and craft before an awestruck audience.
The only audible sounds were squeals of delight and a gentle breeze whipping the kites throughout the park.
“I simply enjoy the aspect of making and creating something nobody else has made and having another life with it,” said Pollock, a longtime art professor at Montana State University-Billings.
Jackie Haider cradled her 2-year-old daughter, Allison, hoping to get their kits airborne before nap time.
“It’s kind of difficult to fly a kite and hold a baby, too,” Haider said. “But we’re going to give it a whirl. It’s just so neat to see all the other kites.”
Allison had her very own makeshift kite constructed out of a Wal-Mart bag and a string.
As president of SkyWindWorld, Terry Lee Zee’s name has become synonymous with kites. She held court under a canopy, instructing festival-goers in the art of kite-making.
“We teach kids that a kite is like your body,” Zee said. “In order for it to fly well, it needs to be well-balanced. We also teach them that flying a kite is a very meditative experience, a very Zen experience. I love the thrill of seeing a piece of art, engineered to fly, framed by the sky, soaring high above me.”
Mark Cacal took the day off from work Sunday to attend the Kite Fest. He planned to spend the afternoon at the park navigating his sun-drenched kite. He has enjoyed the pastime for two decades, saying it helps relieve the stress and craziness of work.
With eyes fixed on his kite flying high above him, Cacal said, “This is just a great way to enjoy nature.”
Zee said the Kite Fest will become an annual event.