Update: The M.V. Wind Festival has been postponed until Saturday, Sept. 3.
There’s something about the sight of a kite soaring high above Ocean Park — a speck of color against an azure sky — that summons pleasant thoughts: the joys of childhood, the carefree pleasures of a Vineyard vacation, a seagull’s sense of freedom, the cooling effect of a sea breeze on a hot summer day. On Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, the first Martha’s Vineyard Wind Festival will feature a day-long kite flying contest, along with other family events.
Activities will be split between two ocean-facing parks in Oak Bluffs. While the kites are flying at Ocean Park, a frisbee expo and fair will be going on just a couple of blocks away at Waban/Alley Park. Nonprofits have been invited to set up information tables at Waban Park, along with artisans and other vendors showing their wares. Jake Gifford, owner of The Lazy Frog game store in Oak Bluffs, will host an interactive frisbee golf demonstration in the hopes of introducing the popular game to kids and uninitiated adults. The Vineyard Gazette will have a spot in the park where people can make kites out of the newspaper, and there will also be areas for kite decorating.
A hot air balloon was considered but that plan was deflated before it took off the ground because of security issues surrounding the presidential visit. Instead, the first annual hot air award will be presented to Marty Nadler at a Friday evening launch party. Co-organizer Holly Alaimo says that she has secured promises from a number of kite surfers and windsurfers to demonstrate their skills off of the Oak Bluffs Town Beach during the event.
On Friday, Aug. 26, Featherstone Center for the Arts (the event’s beneficiary) will host a launch party with hors d’oeuvres by Tea Lane Caterers, wine and beer, a silent auction, and music by a jazz trio made up of John Alaimo, Michael Tinus, and Michael Albarice. On display will be kites constructed and decorated by a number of local artists. The winner of a watercolor painting honoring the event by local artist Leslie Baker will be drawn at the launch party. Raffle tickets and posters have been on sale all summer, with the money from these sales going to Featherstone.
How it started
Ms. Alaimo had been mulling over the idea of a kite flying contest for a few years now. By recruiting veteran organizer, Joan Hewson, she has managed to have her dream take flight after months of planning. Ms. Hewson is a coordinator for Boston’s Head of the Charles Regatta. Says Ms. Alaimo, “She’s the counterpart to my ‘Let’s put on a show.’ She said, ‘OK. Let’s do it this way.'”
The two women decided to add other elements to the day and make it a celebration of wind, and an end-of-summer family-friendly gathering. Ms. Alaimo and Ms. Hewson chose the date because, as Ms. Alaimo says, “There’s that lull between the big Fair weekend and Labor Day. It’s also the time of year that the winds pick up a bit.
“We want to do it right and make it feel like a real family fun event,” she continues. She encourages people to bring picnics, lawn chairs, blankets, and little boats to sail in Ocean Park’s pond. “It will be a great thing to do with your kids — slow down, decompress, and think about the summer and how wonderful it is here on the Island.”
Ms. Alaimo was inspired in part by stories she had heard of a previous kite festival that started in the ’70s. Sherman Goldstein, who along with his wife Susie currently owns The Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, was working as an agency head for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) when he launched the original kite festival. It ran from the early ’70s to early ’80s as a fundraiser for MVCS. “It was just a magical, beautiful day,” Mr. Goldstein recalls.
Says Ms. Alaimo, “The wind is what got us here to the Island. Without wind the area wouldn’t be settled.” She lists the threefold benefits of wind as “transportation, relaxation, and inspiration.” Ms. Alaimo stresses that the festival is in no way connected with the wind farm initiative. “It’s just about having fun and celebrating the fact that we live by the sea,” she says.
The organizers hope to make the Wind Festival an annual event and plan to make it bigger every year. “It’s starting small but its going to grow. Every year we’re going to add another component,” she says. “As they say, ideas fly.”
M.V. Wind Festival Launch Party, Friday, Aug. 26, 6–8 pm, Featherstone, Oak Bluffs. $50. ticketsmv.com.
M.V. Wind Festival, Saturday, Sept. 3, 11 am–dusk, Waban and Ocean parks, Oak Bluffs. mvwindfestival.com.