Rachel Kail couldn’t stop grinning as she sat with her sons Saturday on the grounds of Metropolitan Community College-Longview in Lee’s Summit, her head tilted toward the blue sky.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said the Gladstone woman, checking out a colorful assortment of monstrous kites soaring above. “I fell in love with this event the first time I found it. There’s such a peacefulness, watching these float in the sky.”
Hundreds of families swarmed the campus to take part in the annual Flights of Fancy Kite Festival, a free event that ran from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those attending could watch dozens of mega kites provided by Great American Kites & Events or bring their own kites to fly.
Kites galore decorated the sky, ranging from child-sized to those that could fill a basketball court. Among the designs were birds, fish, caterpillars, a big brown dog, a rainbow-colored squid, a purple bear and a tiger.
Randy and Robin Vogel of Lee’s Summit brought their granddaughter, Elizabeth Shoemaker.
“My favorite is the sea horse,” said Elizabeth, 9, pointing to a 25-foot-long creature soaring above. “But I like that big dog, too.”
Randy Vogel said they’ve attended for several years.
“We’ve been out here some years when it’s been freezing, so this is great,” he said. “It’s a little breezy, but that’s OK. Some years, the big ones don’t stay up because there’s not enough wind.”
Lack of wind definitely wasn’t a problem Saturday. Blowing from the south-southwest at 25 mph, it had event organizers hopping as they tried to keep the kites under control.
One kite, in the shape of a humongous Jayhawk, had a rough morning as it would repeatedly head upward, then flip in the wind and nosedive onto the grassy field, prompting groans of sympathy from onlookers and a shout of “Look at that poor penguin!” from one young boy.
A few smaller kites met their demise in some trees to the north.
“It’s a little too windy,” said Sean Beaver, owner of Great American Kites & Events, who spent the day hustling from one group of kites to another. Beaver said he has about 100 of the gigantic objects, many of which are at least 100 feet long.
Like the wind on Saturday, kite sales were brisk. Children lined up at one booth, begging their parents to buy them one, or preferably more — the bigger, the better.
As Kail sat on a blanket and enjoyed the scenes, her sons — Max, 5, and Bennett, 3 — divided their time between kite-watching and wrestling with each other inside a small, round red-and-yellow tent their mom had brought.
“This circus tent has made an appearance at the kite fest for four years now,” Kail said. “They were in diapers when I first started bringing them.”
Just beyond the throng of kite fliers, Marvin and Thelma Sword of Independence relaxed in their lawn chairs under a tree.
“This is fabulous,” said Thelma Sword, as she and her husband enjoyed a snack. “Kettle corn and lemonade and kites. And it’s windy, but the weather is perfect.”
There was only one thing missing, the couple noted.
“We wish we’d have brought the grandkids,” Thelma said. “We’ll have to make sure and do that next year.”