Kite festival a step closer to taking off
A community arts group is looking to take advantage of the active winds in the Nicola Valley this summer.
The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council is optimistic it will host Lighter than Air Fair on Sept. 21 and 22.
City of Merritt council agreed on Feb. 12 to fund $1,500 in-kind for the festival if the group is able secure provincial funding.
“I want to support it because this isn’t anything like the [Great Canadian Bike Rally],” Coun. Dave Baker said.
“If this is successful, we are in a position to have something great here.”
Before the city fully supports the event, the leisure services department will have to complete a logistical analysis.
“The kite festival is an interesting idea and a great event to explore further,” Leisure Services Manager Larry Plotnikoff said. “But there is a lot to consider in terms of location.”
Organizers have been looking at Central Park as the prime spot.
Plotnikoff stressed that his department also needs to investigate safety before the city can approve the event.
As an Arts Council director, Kathi Dalhquist-Gray said she’s been attempting to gain approval of the festival from the NVCAC since 2008. After finally gaining their support, the group approached the city.
“I think the city realized with the failure of the Mountainfest and with the [Great Canadian Bike Rally] that they needed to do something that was home grown and more family-oriented,” she said. “That was the whole purpose of it, because it’s cross-cultural and it’s inexpensive for people to participate in.”
If approved, the event will feature kite-making workshops, history lessons about kites and, of course, kite flying. Detailed plans haven’t been determined.
“It’s actually pretty exciting,” Dalhquist-Gray said. “I was really happy that people were finally interested in it, because it’s not only the people in Merritt who are interested, many people in the towns around Merritt are also into it, including Kamloops.”
The event could also feature professional kite fighters, similar to those in the film The Kite Runner, as well as events keyed to families.
“I’m hoping there will be families with little kids, teaching them how to make kites and fly a kite,” Dahlquist-Gray said.
City administration have noted potential developers in the city have interest in kite festivals.
“At some point or another, we could connect them with those folks who are connected with it as well,” Economic Development Manager James Umpherson said.
“There are thousands of people who go to these events and it could be great. There is interest here outside this particular group and they have mentioned that to city staff.”