LONG BEACH - Continuing its reputation for high-flying excitement and record-breaking achievements, this year's Kite Festival celebrates a landmark 25 years, while it continues to draw kite flying aficionados and fun-seeking families to Washington's Long Beach Peninsula. The 25th annual Washington State International Kite Festival will take place on Aug. 21 through 27 along the Bolstad beach approach, boardwalk and beach in Long Beach.

The week long festival will see the return of popular past attractions - fighter kites, fireworks, exhibitions, a red, white and blue patriotic tribute, and the magical lighted night fly. Events such as a foster grandparents fly, allowing seasoned kite flyers to share skills with novice flyers, as well as a mystery ballet display will be added this year. The festival has scheduled four mass ascensions, each dedicated to a specific kite type, each promising a spectacular exhibit of 250 kites in the air at one time. While spectators will find ample visual attractions, kite enthusiasts of all ages will be invited to participate in kite building, flying competitions and multitudes of hands-on activities throughout the festival.

This year's featured flyers promise to add a unique blend of art and ingenuity to the week's colorful skies. John Pollock, art professor from Montana State University, will contribute the beautiful imagery of his kite designs, which utilize painting and lithography. All the way from Reading, England, Phil Scarfe, an expert kite maker, will show off his inventiveness with parafoils.

The festival, which began as a humble gathering of a nine participants and one kite team from Edmunds Community College, has grown into one of the largest kite festivals in North America, enticing thousands of visitors from around the world to share their passion for kite flying. The first kite festival in 1981 still holds the Guinness record for keeping a kite in the air for the longest time - 180 hours (seven and one half days). The team from Edmunds set that record.

In 1983 the festival began attracting an international audience with flyers from Japan and now draws flyers from Australia, Italy, England, Indonesia, New Zealand, India, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Brazil, China and other far-reaching places. For detailed Kite Festival events, featured flyer biographies, and a full schedule of activities, please access (www.kitefestival.com).

With wide sandy beaches and coastal breezes, Long Beach has been called the Kite Capital of the U.S. Kite shops, resident kite flyers, and the beloved World Kite Museum (now in its new, expanded location) provide enjoyment for kite enthusiasts and first-time flyers alike. The Long Beach Peninsula boasts a string of coastal communities with award-winning restaurants, unique accommodations, shops and galleries. Attractions include the nation's newest National Park, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, two historic lighthouses, an eight-mile coastal bike and pedestrian trail, the Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, local museums and a 20-plus mile stretch of beach. For event and visitor information, please call the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau toll-free at 800-451-2542 or access (www.funbeach.com)

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