Kite carnival takes flight in breezy High Plains

An “Ollie the Octopus” kite flown by Bruce DeFoor of Clovis looms over the field during the second annual Kite Karnival Saturday at Doc Stewart Park. DeFoor says he has a collection of at least 175 kites. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ staff writer

Don’t worry, it wasn’t a drug- induced hallucination. The humongous purple blowfish and giant green octopus waving in the air Saturday at Doc Stewart Park were part of the second annual Kite Karnival held across the highway from Cannon Air Force Base.

The event featured dozens of kites, a handful of sponsors, and hundreds of kite enthusiasts of all ages and levels.

“We’re having a blast,” said Clovis resident Margie Cartwright, a former military wife who was there with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. “The highlight for me is watching my grandbabies,” Cartwright said, while beaming as 2-year-old Autumn hooked a string to her bright yellow flyer.

George Romero, also a Clovis resident, attended the event with his wife and four children.

“On a windy day kids used to stay inside,” he said. “Now they can go outside and have some fun.”

Romero was lined up for the wind sprint competition where contestants get a shot to see whose kite goes the farthest in a second.

To the left of Romero in the wind sprint line was Jane Finch and her son Brian, who turned 8 today. “It’s neat,” he said as he held the line tight on his self-made vampire kite.

Sheri Hayes, community center director and special events coordinator for Cannon, came up with the idea of a kite carnival.

“It just made sense,” she said. “It’s always windy in New Mexico.

The carnival had about three times the people as last year, officials said, peaking at its 10 a.m. kick-off with roughly 400.

“We like the free things,” said Ralph Elliot, a chaplain at Cannon who was there with his three kids. Elliot was holding a kite they won from knowing the password “windy,” while his brood were busy coloring dinosaurs and “modern art” in the free kite making booth.

By far the favored kite was the great green octopus, who even has a name.

“Ollie is the crowd-pleaser,” said Bruce DeFoor, who calls himself the “Clovis Kite Man.” DeFoor and his wife Beth have a collection of at least 175 kites for which they had to build a special storage area in their garage.

Attendees could always take a break to check out the free rides or a game of bean toss or paint ball.

“Everything is reasonably priced — 25 cents — or free,” said Gabriel Velasquez as he sat stringing a ladybug kite for his daughter, Autumn. Velasquez said he will definitely attend the event next year because it’s an ideal place for a family to have fun.