Mike Peetoom, president of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, has a nifty way of describing one of its big annual events for children and those young at heart.
“Enjoy our music, enjoy our food, but if you don’t like it, you can go fly a kite.”
Furthermore, the traditional Birch Bay Kite Fest and Dog Show guarantees wind, or at least offers as close to a guarantee as possible.
Douglas Bennion, the new executive director of the chamber of commerce, is a lifelong kite enthusiast and is looking forward to his first Kite Fest. He’s the friendly fellow who makes that wind guarantee for the Memorial Day weekend event. This year, it’s held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, from 10 a.m. to at least 5 p.m. at Birch Bay Beach Park, 7930 Birch Bay Drive.
“I’ll be there to fly my kite. It’s always windy in Birch Bay. The wind is always coming off the ocean and there’s always enough wind to fly a kite,” he says.
“Call it a beautiful breeze,” says Patricia Applegate, the event’s coordinator.
Applegate coordinates numerous events for the chamber and calls Kite Fest “my ‘favorite favorite’ of our events. It‘s so amazing watching families have so much fun, that something so simple can bring so many people together. I have three boys, 12, 10 and 7, and they love Kite Fest.”
Basic kites are $2 for the first 200 or so flyers, or as long as they last.
“We encourage people to bring their own kites if they wish,“ says Bennion, referring to larger and more complicated kites than the basic flyers.
There’s still time to add sponsors, the organizers say. The primary sponsor is Blaine: Birch Bay Parks and Recreation District 2.
This year, Kite Fest is a prelude to a monster event new to Birch Bay this year. Fan Fest, which draws many thousands of people, is relocating from Ocean Shores and is scheduled Aug. 16-18 (for details, go to FanFestNW.com).
A dog show, too
For dog lovers, the dog show, which starts at 1 p.m. both days, is a fun attraction.
“It really is a big event, and it’s getting bigger every year,” says Peetoom, referring to both aspects of the festival, which started more than a decade ago and features local bands, numerous vendors of food, crafts, jewelry and more, plus several kite flying contests each day.
Two years ago, Kite Fest drew about 3,000 people. “But we had from 4,000 to 5,000 last year,” he says.
Applegate says kites still fascinate children as much as they ever have.
“A little kite flying can make a child feel such a sense of accomplishment,” she says.
The spacious park offers an ideal field for kite flying, with no wires or obstacles in the way.
The event is totally family friendly – no alcohol or tobacco is allowed.
Applegate says that kite flying contests include longest flying kites, highest flying, the best trick kites (they involve two strings), the most creative kites and unique kites.
“For the longest flying contest, people have to hold the string all the way,” Peetoom says with a laugh.
Dog owners are encouraged to spiff up their animals and bring them in costume, if they wish.
Kids can also enjoy games and a bouncy house.
Information: Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce and Birch Bay Information Center, 7900 Birch Bay Drive, (360) 371-5004 or go to BirchBayChamber.com.