Thousands of kites representing the colorful diversity and sky-high spirits of the community will fly above Chapman Cultural Center and Barnet Park during the Spartanburg Soaring! International Kite Festival on Saturday, March 21.
More than 2,000 people, including hundreds of out-of-town visitors, flew to the fields surrounding Chapman Cultural Center in the spring of 2014 for the inaugural festival, which featured food, music, and kite-flying. Professional fliers attended, sending kites of impressive sizes and designs into the air, as well as children who ran enthusiastically with simple, handmade kites.
“The sky was full of kites, and the city was full of joy,” Jennifer Evins, President and CEO of Chapman Cultural Center, said. “Kite-flying brings people together. The festival is a great place for people of all ages and backgrounds to experience what Spartanburg’s all about. We want people to show their community pride and come play with us!”
This year, Spartanburg’s Way to Wellville initiative will have a presence at the festival to promote wellness and community pride in an effort to lead to a healthier Spartanburg. In addition, Partners for Active Living and City of Spartanburg will feature plenty of “no wind” activities, such as Frisbee throwing and face painting. “Kites might be the symbol of Spartanburg’s community pride, but we’ll have many other activities going on just in case there’s no wind,” Evins said.
To promote good health and exercise, attendees are encouraged to walk or ride bicycles to the event. As an added benefit to this year’s festival, City of Spartanburg will waive public bus fares for the day to give residents transportation to the festival free of charge. “The whole city is on board with Spartanburg Soaring,” Evins said. “Whether you walk, bike ride, or ride a bus, just come. It’s going to be a glorious spring day to be healthy and celebrate Spartanburg.”
Fun-fly ribbons will be awarded throughout the day to people flying kites in the “free fly zones” in categories such as Biggest Kite, Most Creative, Highest Flyer, Prettiest Kite, and Straightest Up to the Sky. Children and adults alike are eligible for awards. “And we expect to have some professional and high-end enthusiasts here again this year,” Evins said. “Last year, we had professional kite flyers from North Carolina and Georgia, and giant kites that looked like blue whales in the sky. Someone even had a kite with a camera on it.”
Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring their own kites, but inexpensive kites will be on sale for those who wish to purchase one at the festival. Spartanburg Soaring! Kite Club, which formed last year in response to the inaugural festival and campus-wide kite exhibition, will be on hand to help festival goers assemble their kites. Chuck Holmes, a Spartanburg resident and master kite maker who established the club, was the catalyst for the Spartanburg Soaring! initiative.
“Chuck and his kites are what started Spartanburg Soaring!,” Evins said. “He is certainly the go-to guy in Spartanburg, and probably the state, when it comes to kites. We are forever grateful for his guidance and participation in this project.”
Attendees can expect to see and do much more than fly kites. Live music will be provided by Rock and Roll Reunion, a band lead by local news anchor Tom Crabtree, noon-2 p.m., as well as Wentzler Butler’s New Orleans-style jazz band The Rockers, 3-5 p.m. In between, people can participate in an energetic drum circle lead by Melisa Emkjer.
Dozens of regional artisans will be on hand as well, selling their affordable handcrafted wares in Barnet Park. Artists from an array of genres will showcase what makes the local arts scene soar in Spartanburg. “It is the perfect opportunity for both the artists and the public to sell and buy locally made works of art,” Evins said.
Food trucks will be on hand as well, pairing healthy activity with healthy fares. Asheville-based Taste and See, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, Kesha’s Mobile Food Truck, The Nomadic Few shaved ice, K BBQ, and Greenville favorite The Chocolate Moose, which will serve hot chocolate and coffee, will provide options for everyone along Liberty Street.
“Kite flying is an international and intergenerational activity,” Evins said. “Spartanburg Soaring is all about celebrating Spartanburg, taking pride in our community. What better way to do this than to get out on a spring day and look upward to the blue sky as hundreds of kites of many different kinds and colors fill the heavens?”
In case of inclement weather, the festival’s rain date is the following day on Sunday, March 22, 1-5 p.m.
Sponsors for this event include WSPA-TV, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, City of Spartanburg, Price’s Menswear, and Partners of Active Living, as well as Upstate International that will blanket the area with flags of nations around the world, many with their own kite-related traditions.
Spartanburg Soaring! International Kite Festival is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit ChapmanCulturalCenter.org or call (864) 542-ARTS.