Clovis Kite Karnival, amazingly, short of wind

By Jean Verlich

The wind didn’t cooperate Saturday for the third annual Kite Karnival, but not even the invited guests — members of the American Kitefliers Association — seemed to mind.

With winds barely getting up to a light breeze through Doc Stewart Park, many kites were grounded. That just meant children could learn how to create a high-flying kite in the kite-making workshop, or try their luck at the carnival games.
Event organizer Sheri Hayes, community center director and special events coordinator for Cannon Air Force Base, said she knew it was important to have “Plan B.” She was glad she did.

Designed to be a community get-together, Hayes said she included the other activities to “let kids have fun.”

In its third year, the Kite Karnival was her idea.

After her husband was transferred from Japan to Cannon, Hayes attended a National Recreation and Park Association convention and met someone from the AKA. She thought her new home would be ideal for a kite festival. “It’s real windy in Clovis,” she said.

Hayes planned the event with April being National Kite Month and National Month of the Military Child.

Despite the calm Clovis day, Hayes was pleased at the turnout. “Everyone’s having a great time,” she said. She estimated some 2,000 people attended, up from last year’s attendance of about 1,200.

Most of the dozen or so die-hard kite fliers were AKA members, invited to participate to display their kites and kite-flying expertise.

AKA member and Roswell resident Dennis Ware was flying a Japanese fighter kite. He began his love affair with kites a quarter century ago. Inspired by a television report on Bob Ingraham, a New Mexican who founded the American Kitefliers Association, the 60-year-old retired Navy chief petty officer went out to buy a kite. He now has about 300.
Brad Martin, 46, of Lubbock was flying a rip-stop nylon American flag kite.

Martin made a return engagement to the event this year because he had fun last year.

“We like flying kites,” he said.

The event’s biggest kite on display was Walt Mitchell’s Cody Manlifter, named after Buffalo Bill Cody.

Mitchell said the famous Westerner was a pioneer in kitemaking and used them for battle, putting five together with a man in a basket to fly 200 feet above a battle field.
Mitchell possesses another key kite skill: He sews.

“It’s tedious work to make a kite,” he said. Although a kite takes on average about 40 hours to make, he said it took him 100 hours to make the Cody Manlifter.

The 67-year-old learned to sew from his mother on one of the old treadle machines, he said. And yes, he did have the common diamond kite as child.

Carveth and Luella Kramer traveled from Santa Fe as invited AKA guests. They exhibited a 180-foot kite arch of 49 kites called, “one world, one family,” that he made to symbolize the many people and nations on Earth holding hands.