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Colorful kites fill the air over Bel Air's Rockfield Park on sunny Saturday

It was a beautiful day for young and old to fly a kite Saturday at the eighth annual Bel Air Kite Festival held at Rockfield Park.

Visitors ranged from three months old to nearly 78, and the latter was Allen Ault, who's the man behind the festival.

"It gives something to the community, because the community has been good to me," Ault said. "And I'm just a kiter. I love kites."

For many of the people attending Saturday's kite festival, it's the one event each year they make sure the don't miss.

"I love it. We do it every year," said Darcy Hitchcock, who was with her husband, John, and their three children, Lauren, 8, Ashley, 5, and Luke, 2.

"It represents childhood," Hitchcock said. "I love to see the kites in the air. It's spring, everyone is just getting out. It reminds me of childhood and innocence."

Lauren's secret for flying her kite? Get a good head start and get running fast. It seemed to work for her.

Kites of all shapes, sizes and designs dotted the sky over Rockfield Park throughout the morning and afternoon. Many visitors brought their own kites. For those who didn't, there were hundreds to give away.

"We have 400 this year," Ault said.

Last year, by 11 a.m., just an hour into the festival, all 275 kites had already been given away. Ault was prepared this year, and though the purple and green kites were gone, there were still plenty of yellow, orange, red and blue to be handed out.

A favorite among the younger kids were contraptions that made huge bubbles and had them giving chase through the field.

The younger kids ran across the fields screaming with delight when their kites lifted off, mostly thanks to the help of their parents.

Older kids were trying their best to do it on their own, and when they were successful, stood proudly with the hint of a smile.

Others didn't have to fly a kite; they were content to watch the colorful sky overhead as kites zigged and zagged.

For the novice flyer, Ault gave his quick lesson on how to fly a kite: "Stand with your back to the wind, feel it on the back of your neck. Let the wind blow it up and go," he said. "Of course, 60 years experience helps."

Betsy and James Colgan of Bel Air brought their children, Sophia, 6, and Annabelle, 18 months. It was their third year at the festival.

"I love kites, they love it. They were so excited when we drove up," Betsy Colgan said. "They love the colors and the people."

She said it's one of her favorite events.

"I'm not from here; this is just a cool thing," she said.

"I like all the colors," said Sophia, a Bel Air Elementary student.

Jessica Guenther's secret for keeping her kite up in the air? "Get it up as high up in the air as you can," she said, as her 2-year-old daughter, Zoe, ran around with her dad, Joshua.

Guenther's kite was among the highest of those swaying in the breeze. Holding three-month-old Azelie, if the kite started to dip, Guenther, who lives in Latrobe, Pa., but is staying at her parents' house, every so often would tug on the string to get the kite back up.

"This is just something fun to do on a Saturday," she said.

For those who were having trouble getting their kites in the air, or keeping them up there, there was plenty of expert help from Ault's friends, many of whom are professional kite flyers and who come to the Bel Air festival every year to help support their friend.

"He's our dad; he's our mentor," Joyce King, whose husband, Jeff, was the DJ for the event, said of Ault.

The Kings came up from Annapolis.

"It's a good event for kids to get interested in kites, and outdoors away from the video games," Joyce King said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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