ST. GEORGE – Taking place at SunRiver Golf Course, family and friends of all ages are invited to spend the day and evening on the green with live music and entertainment at the 12th annual Dixie Escalante Electric Kit Festival April 16. There will be affordable food and play opportunities of a carnival nature. Admission into the festival is free.
The Kite Festival is a blue chip event that always delivers. It runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The headliner this year is a local musical group, Lawn Darts, offering a mixed variety of ’60s and ’70s music, suitable for all ages and tastes.
But the real headliner of the Kite Festival is its purpose – supporting and encouraging reading development in children, and its historic success.
“It is the largest single day, annual event in Southern Utah, attended by our local community (as opposed to those which draw from out-of-towners),” said Joe McKeehan, director of the Kite Festival. The Kite Festival was actually the brainchild of Pam Bundy back in 1999 but Royce Jones, business development director for Dixie Escalante Electric, and Don Lyman, general manager of Jones Paint & Glass, took the idea and ran with it.
Stella Iverson, Kite Festival Manager, called Jones “one of the greatest imagination minds in the Country.” The directors of the Festival have changed over the years, keeping it fresh with new perspectives but the goal of the Festival has always been the same.
Iverson said that as they came up with “the idea of promoting reading as a fundamental basis of education for every child. Students would be encouraged to read additional minutes at home. A reading chart was developed and at the end of a three-month reading period, students could bring their charts to the Kite Festival to be rewarded with a kite. In 2009, books were added as an additional choice for students to select for their reward.”
Over the years, a variety of incentives and competitions have been included, however those vary from year to year. The ultimate reward is to the children, the schools and, this year, additional rewards for teachers.
McKeehan said that a teacher reward is replacing the school competition awards because the committee recognized that teachers were also deserving of the opportunity for a reward. One of those this year will be a $1,000 reward for the winning teacher to use in his or her own classroom.
McKeehan emphasized that a large part of the success of the Kite Festival is that “there are no administrative fees, it is delivered through the contributions of volunteers, vendors and sponsors.”
And, as a result, he said, the “Washington County School Foundation has received $30,000 every year for the past four years, generated by the Kite Festival.”
McKeehan is optimistic that the Kite Festival can deliver similarly again this year.
St. George News contacted several of local schools and received anticipated assurances of like enthusiasm with nearly every call. “Our kids love it”; “our students have all their charts”; and “it’s for sure been a great incentive, we participate every year!”
Although the primary focus of the Kite Festival is on the elementary schools, intermediate schoolchildren do participate as well. Vice Principal Mark Cottle of Tonaquint Intermediate School said that some of his science and language arts teachers do use the tool of the Kite Festival incentives to encourage their students.
As McKeehan said, “This Festival is to reward those children and their families who have earnestly made an effort to read and encourage reading,” working with elementary schools in the area to provide an incentive for improving reading skills and citizenship.
For Schedule of Events, Directions and more, visit www.dixiekitefestival.com.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.