BERKELEY, Calif. — A booming voice carried across the hills of the Berkeley Marina as the 32nd annual Berkeley Kite Festival was under way. That voice belonged to none other than the well-respected Ron Gibian.
Gibian was the main announcer for the competitive field, but he has fulfilled roles such as a judge or a side field announcer as well. And he said his usual role is as a featured guest for his ability to create stunning kites. “I’ve been a relentless kid all my life,” he said.
Since his early days in Chile, Gibian has been surrounded by artists; both parents, especially his father, a commercial artist, were involved in the artistic community. Gibian first became interested in kites as a child when he attended Chilean Independence Day kite festivals. He talked about how the sport of kite fighting is central to the culture of the Chilean people, and how that inspired him to take his artistic ideas to the realm of kite-making.
“I found kites to be are an interesting platform, and the sky to be my gallery,” he said.
He is also a graphic artist and a percussionist for the band Zzah but he’s passionate about kites.
“Kites have taken me around the world,” he said.
Gibian began attending the Berkeley Kite Festival in 1987, a year after its inception. He has been at this festival ever since, with the exception of a five-year hiatus; this was his first year back. He said the Berkeley Kite Festival is “second to none,” with nearly 35,000 people attending over the course of this past weekend. Gibian said the Washington State Kite Festival draws 100,000 visitors over a week but Berkeley’s large crowds are still impressive over the two-day period.
Gibian also said he has enjoyed seeing the festival grow every year; it started in just a single field with a few large kites and grown to the sprawling event it is today.
In the future, Gibian doesn’t plan on slowing down or leaving the kite community. He usually goes to 12 or 15 kite shows and festivals a year and said he always enjoys the Berkeley festival’s mix of competitive fliers, food vendors and playgrounds. “It’s a 10-ring circus,” he said.