SPI Kite Fest attracts thousands of viewers from around the country

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Hundreds of kites ranging in various shapes, sizes, patterns and price values soared through sky this past weekend on the Island.

B&S Kites, in conjunction with the city of South Padre Island and the Cameron County Park System hosted the annual three-day indoor and outdoor SPI Kite Fest that drew in thousands of viewers from around the country.

Many kite performance teams took turns displaying massive “show kites” in various choreographed routines on the flats north of the South Padre Island Convention Center.

Ben Gray, a member of an Austin-based kite fliers team called Austin End of the Line, said the group has performed in the kite festival for more than 10 years.

“A lot of these people we only see once a year. It feels like we have this long-distance brotherhood,” Gray said. “All of the kite fliers love this festival because we have a very appreciative audience and love bringing so much fun and joy.”

Kite-crafter Mike Shaw has been traveling from Arizona for the past four years to fly his hand-crafted kites in the SPI Kite Fest.

He explained why he decided to self-teach himself how to craft his own kites.

“It’s a funny answer, but I couldn’t afford hot air balloons and I broke radio controlled airplanes so I had to compromise and go to kites,” Shaw said with a laugh. “So, I learned how to sew and began creating my own kites with a four-step operation: design, sew, attach sticks and lines, then hope it will fly.”

Linda Anderson, from Little Lake, Michigan, said this was her second time visiting the kite festival.

She said she enjoyed being in a beautiful atmosphere with a sky full of wonderful kites.

“Sadly, I don’t fly kites, but my father does,” Anderson said. “That’s something I would love my father to show me now that I’m retired.”

According to B&S co-owner Bill Doan, the number of Kite Fest attendees has continued to grow tremendously each year.

More than 800 tickets were purchased for the indoor portion of the kite festival held last Thursday and was sold out two weeks in advance.

Doan said the festival is breaking ground to becoming the biggest indoor kite fly in the country.

“I think many people both young and old are just inquisitive about kites because the scene is beautiful,” Doan explained.