In its fourth year (2018), the Eden Kite Festival is going to be held on Saturday 21 October at the Mosaic Village adjacent to the Engen Garage alongside the N2.
This location provides easy access to bathroom facilities, local eateries and lots of parking space. It's just across the road from Eden Lawns where it took place in 2017. Against the scenic background of the Cloud Nine dune, it is an ideal and scenic spot central to both George and Knysna.
Kite flying festivals are great fun for the whole family, providing challenging competitions tailored for all ages and having great spectator appeal with many kinds of imaginative kites on display, some just for show as they are tied to the ground via a long cord and fly themselves, and others for their flying capabilities.
Lew Geffen Sotherby’s International Realty of George, Knysna Stilbaai and Mossel Bay are the main sponsors of the event and in 2017 encouraged participation by producing 2000 kites for an attempt at an Africa record for the most kites in the air at one time. Many local businesses along the Garden Route contributed prizes.
With music in the background and the regular dose of great food stalls to keep the hungry crowds satisfied, there are also craft stalls and even the family pets can partake in the festival and enjoy an always enthusiastic participatory dog walk and then later, the dog and owner obstacle course which is equally absorbing and amusing to watch.
There are a couple of other happenings like the slow-biking competition - more daunting than one would think, some fun Boere sports and a wind power contest.
Kite flying offers great photographic opportunities so no surprises that there is a competition with categories for adults and juniors.
The adult winner in 2017 is Cathy Birkitt and the junior winner is Marissa du Plessis.
The Eden Kite Festival has all the fundamental elements to become another popular annual event on our Slow Town calendar, drawing people from far and wide as has already proven to be the case.
Along with kite-flyers along the length of the Garden Route a number of international kite flyers from the UK, Poland and the Netherlands attended the 2017 festival.
A great many kite festivals are held around the world. In different places and for different reasons they are nonetheless all popular and well attended events.
In places like Bali in Indonesia they are an integral part of the culture. In Sumpango, Guatemala, they express strong political statements on behalf of native people.
In Shirone, Japan they are exceptionally beautiful works of art and the small town has a kite museum worth visiting.
Large kites come into their own flown in strong challenging winds at Wildwoods, New Jersy, USA.
The Festival of Winds at Bondi Beach, Sydney is Australia’s largest kite festival.
And, at the highly acclaimed Dieppe Festival in France, international kite flyers are showcased and it is considered a world class event for kite lovers in every respect.
I mention only a very few of a great number of well known kite festivals.
Masithandane initiated Eden Kite Festival as a fund-raising event. This NPO has far reaching programs to assist all levels of need in our local community and beyond, into rural areas surrounding Sedgefield.
In this instance the aim is to provide transport bursaries and school related items to enable Grade 8 children and above to attend secondary schools in Knysna and George because Sedgefield doesn’t have a high school.
Many children drop out of school because their families cannot afford the transport costs since the provincial school buses between the towns, stopped running in 2013.
In 2017, over 3000 people attended the day and as an outdoor pastime in a spectacularly beautiful environment, the Eden Kite Festival will surely only gain in size and popularity in years to come.
Hopefully it will secure its place as a desired annual event and continue to be attended by international kite flyers. This fun occasion will have the knock-on effect of bringing much needed funds into the coffers of Masithandane for a very good cause.