CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — We live in a digital world, but there’s still something special about sitting down with a good book and opening up its pages. Reading regularly helps students stay ahead of the curve in school and can spark a lifelong love of learning.
Every year, the Dixie Power Kite Festival brings local families together to play in the sunshine and get kids excited about reading books. About 3,500 Washington County elementary school students are rewarded for their reading efforts, and there’s always room for more.
“Reading is a fundamental basis of education for every child,” said Rick Schofield, the festival director and a Washington County School District Foundation board member. “The more they read, the more they’re going to learn.”
The Dixie Power Kite Festival is the largest kite festival in Utah and the premier literacy event in the local area. All proceeds from each year’s event are donated to the Washington County School District Foundation to support literacy programs. The festival will once again be held on the campus of Dixie State University and is free to attend.
“It’s about reading, kite flying and bringing families together,” Schofield said.
In early January, each of Washington County’s approximately 14,000 elementary school students receive a reading chart and are challenged to read books at home. Students record their daily reading on the chart over the next 13 weeks and have their parent or guardian sign it. Then they can bring their completed chart to the festival to be rewarded for their efforts with a kite or a book of their choice.
Special incentives are offered to the class and school that finish the most books. Bahama Buck’s in St. George is also offering a free shaved ice to every student who turns in a reading chart.
This year’s Dixie Power Kite Festival will feature kite flying, games, bounce houses, delicious food and entertainment throughout the day, along with 80 vendor booths. Schofield said the most popular booth with students, parents and teachers is always the Washington County School District Foundation book booth, which sells a variety of books all for $1 each. Kite enthusiasts of any age are invited to attend and fly their own kites in a designated area.
Per Dixie State University regulations on current events, attendees must fill out a COVID-19 contact tracing form before entering the festival. Participants are asked to follow social distancing guidelines, and masks will be required.
More than 25,000 people attended the festival in 2019. Schofield said he isn’t sure what the crowds will look like this time around, but he hopes to see plenty of students turning in their reading charts and enjoying some family-oriented outdoor activity.
“Just having it this year is a wonderful thing after going through what we’ve gone through,” he said.
Last year’s festival was canceled due to the pandemic, but Dixie Power and participating sponsors still managed to raise $30,000 for the Washington County School District Foundation.
The Washington County School District Foundation first partnered with Dixie Power in 1999 in an effort to promote reading to elementary school students. Over the past 22 years, the Dixie Power Kite Festival has touched generations of families and tens of thousands of children by raising more than $600,000 to support literacy programs. This funding makes a real impact on the lives of the teachers and students in the community, Schofield said.
Dixie Power provides thousands of dollars in funding and countless hours of manpower every year to make the festival a success. Schofield said it wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of the planning committee and the hundreds of volunteers who work tirelessly to prepare and execute the event. It takes a village to help students make reading a habit.
“We’re very appreciative of all our volunteers and sponsors,” he said. “It’s extraordinary to see the community spirit that participates in this kite festival.”
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- What: Dixie Power Kite Festival.
- When: Saturday, April 17, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Where: Dixie State University Encampment Mall, 225 E. 700 South, St. George.
- Tickets: Free.
- Resources: Website.
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