Family fun abounds at 14th annual Bel Air Kite Festival

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Bel Air resident Kristin Baroch watched as her 6-year-old twins, Emma and Ethan, ran back and forth, their small kites trailing behind them as the children tried to get them in the air.

“Are you guys having fun?” Baroch asked her children, her son replying with a hearty cheer. Ethan and his sister tried to keep their kites up, a challenge on an only slightly-windy afternoon Saturday, and their mother had to, at times, de-tangle the children’s kite strings.

They were among the estimated 2,000 people who visited Rockfield Park for the 14th annual Bel Air Kite Festival, a springtime tradition that typically draws hundreds of people to the Harford County seat.

Emma nodded her head and smiled when asked if she was having fun. She said she liked the rainbow colors of her kite.

“[The kids] just wanted to do something today, and it’s a free event,” said Kristin Baroch, who noted her family was attending their first kite festival, plus it was the first time her children had flown kites. “It’s a nice day out, it worked out nice.”

Husband and wife Pankaj and Shefali Kothari, of Abingdon, said they enjoyed watching the families fly kites.

Pankaj, 65, said he was reminded of his childhood in India, when he would fly kites as a hobby and attend kite festivals.

“There are thousands and thousands of kites in one day,” he said of the regular festival. “You can barely see the sky, all you can see is kites.”

His wife, 62, who also grew up in India, said the Bel Air festival brought back happy memories for her, too.

The kite festival is put on by the Town of Bel Air with support from APG Federal Credit Union, which provided funds to purchase 750 kites from Texas-based New Tech Kites. The kites were given out to festival-goers Saturday.

The referral to New Tech Kites, a manufacturer and distributor, came from The Kite Loft store in Ocean City, according to festival coordinator Michael Krantz,

Krantz, director of administration and human resources for the town, highlighted other supporters of the festival, such as the town police and public works departments, The John Carroll School, which provided overflow parking on its campus adjacent to Rockfield Park, Forest Hill-based JDT Transportation, which provided shuttle service from the Hickory Avenue parking garage, as well as about 16 volunteers from the American Kitefliers Association and Wings Over Washington Kite Club, including professional kite flyers and people who could show children how to string and fly a kite and help youths fix and untangle them.

Several food vendors were also present, including Kona Ice, Jenos Steaks and the Fallston-based Love.Crust.Pizza, which provided pizzas cooked in a mobile brick oven.

“A lot of people came together to make this happen,” Krantz said.

Krantz has been the Kite Festival coordinator since 2016, when co-founder Allen Ault passed the leadership role on to him.

Ault, 84, of Bel Air, founded the festival in 2006 with support from the late Paul Hines and Chris Schlehr, the former town administrator for Bel Air. Ault has remained involved as a volunteer, and he was present on Saturday with Evelyn Rossbach, who has worked with him to put on the festival.

“I think it’s great,” Ault said. “Everybody is working together, and we’re doing something for kids.”

Rossbach, 70, of Bel Air, said “it is just wonderful to get out there, and seeing kites in the air and seeing the kids running around having a good time. It’s very, very family oriented, and we love doing it.”

Bhupinder Waraich, 40, of Aberdeen, came out with friends and family for his third visit to the Kite Festival. Adults and children smiled broadly as they kept their kites in the air.

“This is the third time we came back, we love it,” said Waraich, a civilian engineer with the public works department at Aberdeen Proving Ground. “Perfect weather, perfect everything.”

Waraich, who practices Sikhism, noted the kite festival fell on April 13, typically the same day as the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi.

Vaisakhi marks the beginning of the solar calendar year, according to the All About Sikhs website.

Waraich’s friend, Kuldip Singh, of Parkville, and Singh’s family, attended the festival as well. Singh and his wife, Simar Kaur, watched as their two sons flew kites.

“We can just keep eyes on them, and they can have their own fun,” Kaur said of the children. “We really feel safe.”

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