The kite festival: Taking it all in from a seat at the park

BERKELEY, Calif. — The 31st annual Berkeley Kite Festival was in full swing by mid-afternoon Sunday. People were flying kites, selling popcorn or ice cream or jewelry, or watching their kids ride ponies.

Michael Goran watches both professionals and amateur fly kites at the Berkeley Marina. Photo by Joelle Tan 

“Outstanding. We really like the variety of kites,” Michael Goran said. He was relaxing on a grassy hill with his family while admiring the colorful kites in flight, more than 75 by 3 p.m.. It was his family’s first time there, but he said they would come again next year: “We’ve already marked it in our calendars.”

“I like it!” Victoria Varrientos, Goran’s 6-year-old granddaughter, piped up. “I like the little balls on the water. And the pirate ship,” she added. (The bouncing castle, Goran explained.)

Among the many canopied-tents there was Fookie, a business dedicated to fudge cookies. Owner Gregory Dobson said 2017 was his first year at the festival, but his third year running the business. “We just came from the Orange Country Fair,” he said.

Fookie originated in Lincoln, to the northeast of Sacramento, with an aim to become “the next Famous Amous Cookies.”  

“It’s exciting here. I haven’t seen the giant kites before,” Dobson said. “It’s very family-friendly.”

The stall opened at 10:15 in the morning, and was expected to run until the festival ended at 6 p.m.

“The schedule consists of us working together and setting up together, to be as efficient as we can. We’ll definitely be coming back in future years.”

Gregory Dobson. Photo by Catherine Tu 

Alongside the food stalls were those selling souvenirs, and, more memorably, bubble shooters. Jackie Medina had been running the same stall for three years and is participating in her third kite festival at Cesar Chavez Park near the Berkeley Marina. 

Her bubble shooters are highly popular, and she attributes her success to the nature of the Kite Festival. “I love it. It’s very busy and family-oriented, and keeps business going,” she said.