OSWEGO, NY – The skies over historic Fort Ontario were filled with rain – and kites on Saturday.
Dozens of people, young and old, braved the elements to take part in the annual kite fest event.
Some crafters, artists, artisans and others pulled up stakes and sought drier locations; others hunkered down outside the landmark until the skies cleared.
Members of the New York Kite Enthusiasts (NYKE), said Fort Ontario is perhaps the best place in the state to fly a kite, except Saturday.
“There is a lot of wind,” said Todd Brown of Fulton. “However, it is swirling around and come down, shoving a lot of the kites down. I am trying to find a spot where the wind is more calm.”
He attended the 2012 kite fest and joined NYKE at that time, he added.
“Last year I had no kites. Now I’ve got 12 of them,” he told Oswego County Today.
He was flying a kite he made himself. He also made a kite for his father, Charlie Brown, when he was in the hospital battling cancer.
All of the family members also got tattoos – the beloved cartoon character flying a kite – in support of his father, he said.
Rhylan Botsford of South Granby was flying a kite for the very first time. It was fun, she said, once her kite finally got airborne and started to soar upward.
It’s her new most favorite thing, she added.
Tom Shanken is member of NYKE as well as a member of the Friends of Fort Ontario’s board.
“It used to be huge,” he said of the festival. “Then they had the close the fort scare and now the past couple of years, the weather hasn’t cooperated. But we’ll bring it back. We had a real good crowd earlier (before the rain showers) and people are starting to come back now.”
NYKE started in the Capitol Region around 2001, he said.
“We have members from Canada and all over the Northeast. I just started flying kites as a kid and I never stopped,” he said. “I started building my own kites; a lot of our members build their own kites.
Fort Ontario is the only state park that has kite flying in its mission.
In other places, park police could show up and they have the discretion to tell people they can’t fly a kite in the park.
“We fly these things over the northeastern United States and Canada, basically wherever we can,” Brown said. “It’s a great way to spend time outside – even in weather like this.”
A DJ supplied the musical entertainment. Mark’s Pizzeria supplied several pizzas for the hardy crowd during the afternoon.
Visitors could also make reservations for the fort’s annual Ghost Tours in October.
“Maybe we didn’t have the really big crowds like we have had in other years, but the people who did show up had a good time,” said Paul Lear, superintendent of historic Fort Ontario. “The weather turned out nice this afternoon and there are plenty of kites in the sky now. Everyone had fun, so it was a success.”
Besides the ghost tours, Lear will lead a battlefield walking tour of the War of 1812 Battle of Oswego at 2 p.m. Sept. 21.
The tour will begin at the entrance of the old stone fort and is free and open to the public.
Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in Oswego.
For more information on Fort Ontario or the tours, contact Paul Lear at [email protected] or call (315) 343-4711.