Royston Kite Festival
The Kite Festival has been a feature of the Royston summer calendar for a surprising 28 years. That’s quite a record. It’s likely that some of the parents who’ll be
taking the family to the Heath to see the kites this year will themselves have been taken there as children two or three decades ago.
It’s usually thought of as ‘the Rotary Kite Festival’, as Royston’s Rotary Club has managed the event for the past 18 years. Previously it was run by North Herts District Council’s Countryside Management Service – but after 10 years, the CMS began to look for a community organisation with the numbers and skills to take it over. ”It seemed such a natural fit for us and we were happy to take it on“ says Rotary’s Ken Charles, who headed up the team running the event for many years.
The Festival’s focus is always on the skilled kite flying enthusiasts and clubs from surrounding counties who provide the main spectacle, but last year a new attraction was added – a display of historic vehicles. Local owners of classic cars, bikes, and even the occasional tractor and lorry, enjoy bringing their cherished machinery to the Heath and having a picnic while kite-watching. “It was certainly popular last year, without detracting from the spectacle of the kites, so we’ll be doing it again this year” says Rotary’s classic car chief Ray Munden. And this year for the first time,
Royston’s own Crystalite Majorettes will have a couple of spots in the programme to strut their stuff in the arena.
Some features of the event have become a positive tradition. The teddy bear parachute drop, for example, is always a hit with younger children, whose bears can have an aerial adventure by ascending a kite string then parachuting magically to earth. There was a year when the teddy bear drop didn’t happen, which prompted numerous complaints from the younger customers.
No festival is complete without a row of stalls and attractions, and plenty to eat and drink. The Kite Festival offers free stall space to all charity and non-profit organisations, and traders can rent space; there are burgers and hot dogs, a coffee vendor, and if you have something to celebrate, there’s a champagne bar too.
The event is the Club’s biggest fundraiser. After expenses, all the money from gate receipts, the Tombola and donations by generous sponsors, plus stall rentals, goes to good causes. This year’s major recipient, the choice of Club President David Blundell, is Acorn House, which offers accommodation to the families of sick children receiving treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The Club reckons that since they took over in 2000, the event has raised around £100,000 for charity. “That’s a lot of money for some excellent causes, while giving thousands of people a lot of fun.”