Copperas Cove Parks & Rec holds Kite Festival
By BRITTANY FHOLER
More than 300 people showed up at Ogletree Gap Park to fly kites at the Copperas Cove Parks and Recreation Department’s first ever Community Kite Festival held Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s event was the final event in a series held during this month after Mayor Bradi Diaz issued a proclamation declaring July to be Parks and Recreation month, according to the city’s Public Information Officer Kevin Keller.
The city’s tourism coordinator and the Parks and Recreation Department brainstormed and realized nobody does a kite festival in the area, Keller added.
“We’ve got a beautiful place,” Keller said, of Ogletree Gap Park. “I mean, it’s so open, and this park is so underutilized, so it just kind of brings attraction to this park.”
Keller estimated that more than 350 people had attended the festival, which was free and open to the public from 4 p.m., and featured a pop-up farmer’s market, food trucks and a chalk station as well as more than 530 donated kites given away to attendees who didn’t bring their own.
“We’re proud that we didn’t have to charge fees for entry, and we’ve really spent very little money to make this happen because we had all the donations,” Keller said. “We’re proud that that helps take pressure off the parents to have to go to the store, buy a kite and come out. They can just show up and fly a kite.”
Sponsors of the event included the Copperas Cove H-E-B Plus!, Airheads HVAC, Benchmark Family Dental, Fort Hood Girl Scout Troop 6279, the Youth Advisory Council and Garris Entertainment, who provided DJ services and played popular music as well as songs about flying kites.
H-E-B Plus! donated 242 kites; Benchmark Family Dental and the YAC donated 52 kites each; and Airheads HVAC donated 150 kites.
Keller said that the city staff will review all the events held this month, like the Kite Festival and the South Park Cleanup Walk and determine whether to hold them again next year and possibly expand on the events.
Within 30 minutes of the festival kicking off, Keller said he had counted roughly 250 people, with that number growing as the festival went on, so he was very pleased with the turnout.
“Staff works hard to prepare events like this, and I know we sat here at 3:30 going, ‘I hope people come. I hope people come,’” Keller said. “You want people to show up, so I think we’re very pleased so far. There’s low overhead and people just have fun.”
The event was extended to 6:30 p.m. as more people showed up and flew their kites in the field next to the pavilion at Ogletree Gap. Keller said that even after the event ended, people could stay until the park closed at 11 p.m. to fly their kites, if they wanted to.
“We just want to provide entertainment and things for people to do, especially on a Sunday afternoon, because there’s usually not a lot going on on a Sunday afternoon,” Keller said.
There were 13 total vendors, including three food trucks, most of them vendors who set up at the Farmers Market at the City Park every Thursday.
Erin Bowles attended the festival with her son Stephen and daughter Addie after hearing about the event from one of the lifeguards at the City Park Pool.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Bowles said. “I’m not a very good kite flyer but he was impressed by watching the other kites. Our kites never go up that high, so he was excited to see them.”
Bowles said she got their kites at the event when they arrived at the park.
“It’s great for the community to come out and have affordable fun,” Bowles said. “It’s not always easy with big families.”
Jason Antoine and his wife Crystal brought their daughters Isabella, Peyton and Sophia, and set up their own chairs in the field to fly their kites. They each received a nylon kite after they arrived, which Antoine said was very nice quality. He added that he really appreciated the sponsors who donated kites for people to take home.
As he was trying to wind up the string and bring his kite down, the wind kept carrying the kite back up. He said he had no problem getting the kite to fly high.
“It doesn’t want to stay down,” he joked.
Crystal found out about the event on Facebook.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “I’d love to see them bring it back.”
Jason said that he thought bringing the community out and the beautiful weather made it the event a success.
“I think it was a pretty good turnout, because an event like this you can’t have too, too many people because then the kites will cross and no one will get up, so it worked out though,” he added.