THOUGH newer kite festivals across the country are stealing some of its thunder, the Jamaica International Kite Festival, held in St Ann since 2005, is holding its own.
On Easter Monday things were off to a slow start at Plantation Cove as those who showed up on time – but well before organisers were ready — leisurely tested their kite-flying skills, relaxed on lush grass under shade-providing trees, and enjoyed the cool ocean breeze.
Children took full advantage of the free rides provided just for them as aspiring prize winners in the kite contests got their flying works of arts wind-ready. But, many patrons were pacing themselves for the star-studded show that would come in the evening.
We bring you highlights, in the words of event organisers and attendees.
Roger “Konkrete” Hasfal
Member of the public relations committee of the Jamaica International Kite Festival, 2023
“We are the original kite festival in Jamaica. We started this thing and revolutionise it, and if others see something that they can also benefit from we are happy for them but we know that the Jamaica International Kite Festival is the mother of all kite festivals anywhere in Jamaica.
It’s a twofold event. We have the Kite Festival and Family Fun Day in the day session and then in the night session we have the stage show where we have some of Jamaica’s biggest superstars — the likes of Sizzla, George Nooks, Professor Nuts, Nadine Sutherland and many more.
We have tourists flying in just for the event from as far as Japan, California, the rest of the United States, Europe and so on, but it’s mostly locally based support from our ever-loyal supporters.”
Last December, Kingston-born Paul Alexander returned to Jamaica from Japan where he lived for 10 years. He now lives in Brown’s Town, St Ann, with his Japanese wife Midori and two sons, eight-year-old Zion and Noah who is almost three.“We’re waiting for things to pick up a bit. Right now is a chill vibe and we will soon go launch our kites and have some fun in the festival. On my way here I saw a guy selling kites in Brown’s Town and this Jamaica one stood out, and this one [indicates kite being referred to] came with us all the way from Tokyo, Japan.
“We wanted to come out early and find a nice, comfortable spot. It’s tropical — nice and warm — but we’re by the beach so we’re getting some nice sea breeze so it feels really good.”
Determined to win
In a thick American accent, Terenna Simmonds made it clear to LetsTravelCaribbean.com that she was at the kite festival to win! She still hasn’t forgotten being bested the last time she attended the event.
“We lost to a cute little girl so we had to come back and do it again! This year we’ve got some giant beasts over there. They’re like octopuses that float in the air so they look like they’re taking over the world.
“I love the event. It’s just a beautiful thing for family to come in unity. I’m here with my husband, a friend of the family, my niece and my nephew and my other cousin.
“The most fun thing about this event is the people, the kindness, the generosity and the fun. It just gives you a moment in time to feel free without thinking about any troubles.”
Waiting for the evening show
Kingston resident Trudy Williams saw the kite festival as the perfect blend of events for her and her four-year-old son Logan. He would enjoy the kites during the day while she would rock to the beats of the show later in the evening. She came prepared with her camping chair and sunglasses.“I saw the event on social media so I decided to take my son because we don’t have much to do in town. I decided to give him the drive so he can enjoy the kites. He loves outdoor stuff.
“It’s my first time coming. We just got here shortly after noon. I didn’t want to come too early because I know it’s an all-day event and they go up to the show tonight so I didn’t want to exhaust Logan.”
All about the marketing
This was the second time at the kite festival for Ledley Rose, owner of LedRo Ventures. For him, it’s a great opportunity to market his products. When LetsTravelCaribbean.com spoke with him shortly after 11:00 am he said the crowds were smaller than last year’s at the same time of day but he still thought it was worth making the journey from Kingston.
“The most popular item is the eagle kite that sells for $700. It basically looks like a bird and the kids are fascinated with them. This is an idea I got from the last time I was here. The kites were just too conventional in terms of their appearance so I went out to find kites that are a bit different and, so far, it has been well received. I have sold maybe 20 to 25 kites over the last two hours.
“There is going to be a kite contest [for] the largest kite, the most unusual kite. I don’t know if my kites are gonna fall in the unusual category [but] I hope they do.”