All eyes on sky as Livingston Kite Festival nears

mnorth@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 18, 2013 

LIVINGSTON -- In two months, it won't be an abnormality to see dragons, lizards and snakes flying through the sky over this city.

The second year of the Livingston Kite Festival, which draws the unique sights, is being planned by organizers. They expect this year's event to draw about 5,000 people -- 2,000 more than last year.

The day serves as "a great family event," said Julio Valadez, an agent with the Knights of Columbus, which is helping organize the event along with the city.

"I think it's worthwhile for Livingston and the surrounding communities because it's a family-oriented event," he said, adding that it gets kids outside, away from video games and interacting with others.

This year's festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 14 at Livingston Middle School on 101 F St. and will kick off with the landing of a California Highway Patrol helicopter, Valadez said.

The festival is free to attend and will include many activities, such as face painting, pie-eating contests, bounce houses, cultural performances, food and kite- flying demonstrations, Valadez said.

The entertainment will run throughout the day.

Those who attend can enter kite-flying and building competitions to win prizes, Valadez said. The first 500 kids will get a free kite at the event, and there will be kite-making workshops for children. Local schools will take part in kite building in the days leading up to the festival.

Like last year, Valadez said, there will be a candy drop, where candy is released from a bag attached to a kite in flight.

This year, the drop will be named after Jim Strealy, a local kite enthusiast who died while flying a kite at Lake Yosemite last year, just a couple of months after participating in the Livingston Kite Festival, where he flew the candy drop kite.

Jacquie Benoit, Livingston's recreation superintendent, said the festival was a popular one last year because it revived an activity many people don't find time to enjoy anymore.

"It creates community," she said.

The event is paid for by fund-raisers and doesn't take any money from the city's general fund, Benoit noted.

Organizers are looking for sponsors and nonfood vendors.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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