KITE festival organisers were flying high after the success of their first event in Felpham.
The bank holiday weekend occasion attracted thousands of visitors and saw dozens of kites soaring into the sky.
Even the dire heavy rain and strong wind on Sunday failed to dampen the spirits of the committee behind the attraction.
One of its members, Jan Malpas, said it was a case of up, up and away at the new venue of King George V Playing Field.
“It has been a fantastic festival. It has been a spectacular occasion, the music has been good and people have been telling us it has been a brilliant festival.
“They want us to be here every year. It’s just been wonderful,” she said.
The festival was held for the fourth time and began in West Park in Aldwick. But a clash of dates with the long-established illuminations gala saw the switch to the playing fields in Summerley Lane where surrounding residents who spoke to the Post were enthusiastic about its return.
Felpham Parish Council chairman Cllr Dave Smart set the tone when he formally opened the festival last Saturday morning. He told those present he looked forward to the festival returning in 2019 and for many years into the future.
Mrs Malpas said she hoped that would be achieved with the support of the site’s owner, Arun District Council.
“We want to be coming back here,” she said. “We have got everything here – a nice choice of food, fantastic stalls of goods and charities and wonderful entertainment. The kite fliers have come from the north, east and west.”
“There’s plenty here for all the family and it’s all for free. This is three times the size of West Park and that extra space has made a lot of difference.”
The area between the stage and the kite-flying arena was crammed with spectators in Saturday’s fine weather as at least 20 kites of all – including a 200ft whale – and busy again on Monday.
Sunday was a wash-out, however. A couple of stalls and the Great Bognor Bake Off marquee were blown away and the ABBA tribute band was cancelled. A couple of dozen hopefuls turned up after the conditions improved in the evening but it had been impossible to make the stage safe.
Monday saw westerly winds of about 11mph and an overcast sky to send the kites flying again. A giant Superman, an over-sized penguin and a brown bear were the most eyecatching.
But the 20 or so kites in action at up to 60m high came in all shapes, sizes and colours.
Kite flier Steve Frankin, of Lewes, was putting his tricking kite through its paces with a dramatic range of movements.
“I work in a noisy environment and late hours, so this is a good way of exercising and being out in the fresh air,” said Steve, 50. “It gets me going to different pieces and meeting the other kite fliers.
“This is my first time here. Hats off to the organisers for putting on this free event. There’s a lot of good stuff here and they deserve a lot of praise.”
Andy Nelson, 60, of Southampton, who was showing a sled kite designed to lift a series of tails on his return visit to the festival. He said: “This is very relaxing and better than being sat at home watching TV. This is a much better venue. There is more room here.
“I would say this is a medium-sized festival. Portsmouth’s is bigger but it’s an international festival but I will definitely be coming back here again.”
Visitors also tried their hand at flying kites. Felpham resident Rachel Stimpson, 36, was there with her husband, Russell Stimpson, 37, and their children, Millie, nine, and Henry, six.
Mrs Stimpson said: “This is a bit of fun with the children and it’s a sense of achievement when you get the kite flying and keep it up.”
Millie said: “It’s kind of exciting when you see it flying and it goes higher. You get a real satisfaction out of it. It’s exciting as well but it can be scary when it looks like it’s going into the trees.”
David Toscano, 41, of Hove, was there with his son, Feo, three. He said: “This is very soothing and keeps children entertained for a good amount of time. I think it’s something which is handed down from generation to generation forever. This is a lovely event and it’s a good day for free.”