Biggest kite fest turnout ever

MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. – The fifth annual New Era Kite Fest had its biggest turnout ever over the weekend.

Over 500 people attended the two-day event which was held Saturday and Sunday at the old New Era School House next to Mineral Wells Elementary School.

Most of the visitors came on the sunny first day, said Max Barker, president of the New Era Kite Club and the New Era School Museum.

“We have had a lot of people out here flying kites,” he said. “It was so colorful Saturday.

“The skies were just filled with kites.”

Although the weather Sunday was cooler than they would have liked with fewer people, the organizers felt the weekend event was a rousing success with so many people coming out Saturday.

Patty Cooper, who conducts tours at New Era School, said there were kites all over the grounds Saturday.

“There were so many kites,” she said. “I had never seen so many flying up in the air.

“There were kites everywhere.”

With warm temperatures on Saturday, a large number of people were able to attend, Barker said.

“We probably had our largest crowd to date (on Saturday) in the past five years,” he said. “It was a bigger crowd than what we were expecting.

“It went really great. We had hundred of flyers.”

Despite cooler temperatures, Barker said the event still had a number of people who came out Sunday to enjoy themselves.

“We are out here flying (Sunday),” he said. “It is cooler, but we do have the wind.”

Many young people went through the short training program they had and some people were supplied with a basic kite to fly while others were able to buy something a little bigger and fancier.

The event was held as a fundraiser to benefit the New Era School Building. A final tally of what was raised was not available at press time.

The building needs a new paint job and there are some other maintenance items we need to get done.

“The proceeds here will go for needed repairs here at the one-room school house museum,” Barker said.

Organizers have gotten calls from people from neighboring states interested in the kite fest. The kite club is a regular fixture at the Barlow Fair in Barlow, Ohio, and the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair in Ripley. The club has been invited to Moundsville for the Arbor Day Fest and to Wellsburg for the West Virginia Kite Festival.

“We have a busy schedule,” Barker said. “It keeps growing each year.”

Todd Griffith, of Belpre, came out Sunday with his wife and four of his kids to fly kites.

“I just wanted to test out some kites and enjoy the time with my kids and family,” he said.

Griffith was trying out some of the larger model kites.

“With all of the different ones out there, I just think it is enjoyable,” he said.

Windy conditions Sunday did not bother him.

“It is just perfect out,” he said. “I don’t think it could be too windy out.”

Barker said the kite fest had many families coming out throughout the weekend.

“It was really nice flying weather,” he said. “It was a beautiful spring day (Saturday).

“We have all been cooped for such a long winter. I hope everyone had a good time and really enjoyed themselves.”