Spending the day up in the air at Strawberry Fields Kite Festival

https://www.toronto.com/whatson-story/7338744-spending-the-day-up-in-the-air-at-strawberry-fields-kite-festival/

WHATSON MAY 29, 2017 BY MIKE MALONEY ST. THOMAS-ELGIN WEEKLY NEWS

For the past 26 years, Anne Sloboda’s plans for the last weekend in May have always been left up in the air.

But that doesn’t mean she’s had trouble deciding what to do because Sloboda is one of the driving forces behind the annual Strawberry Fields Kite Festival.

Free for anyone to attend, this year's version of the event took place May 27-28 on the grounds of the former Regional Mental Health Care facility.

“Basically, what we are doing is just having a free fly, which means that anybody who wants to can grab a kite and come out on the field and fly with us,” said Sloboda.

Attracting kite enthusiasts from across southwestern Ontario, Sloboda said it’s not unusual to have kites of all shapes and sizes filling the skies over the corner of John Wise Line and Sunset Drive. If the weather cooperates, she said the event can draw a crowd of anywhere between 1,500- 2,000 people over the two days.

One of those flyers out testing the winds at the event this past weekend was Carlos Simoes who made the trek to St. Thomas from Cambridge.

Tending to two kites during Saturday’s kick-off — one being a 250 square-foot Sutton foil, and the other a 20-foot tall Winnie the Pooh — Simoes has been involved in the activity since about 1988.

Simoes has to pause for a moment when asked how many kites he has in collection. ‘That’s a hard number, but more than 15 and less than 200 — somewhere in there.”

With as many as 10-12 kite festivals taking place in Ontario alone each year to get, Simoes does his best to get out as often as he can. Being relatively close to home, the Strawberry Fields festival is one that he makes it a point to attend every year.

Brightly coloured kites of all shapes and sizes filled the skies over St. Thomas on May 27 at the 26th annual Strawberry Fields Kite Festival. - Mike Maloney

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