Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
It's literally that time of year again when you go fly a kite. Residents in St Ann are gearing up for this as the Melrose Farm Family Fun Day and Kite Festival, staged annually in Claremont, is celebrating a record 17 years as a family show.
The event takes place, as customary, on Good Friday, April 18, at Melrose Farm in Claremont, and will again this year have Digicel as a major sponsor.
Over the years, the event has proven to be a favourite family affair, and its 17th is expected to be no different.
"We average over 10,000 patrons annually and we expect this year to be no different," Melrose Farm CEO and the event's organiser, Denzil 'Whizzie' McDonald, explained.
"The Melrose Farm Kite Festival started out as just a simple community event but has grown beyond our expectations. For the people in the tiny community of Claremont, St Ann, this is like their Jazz Festival, their Reggae Sumfest."
McDonald said the idea of a kite festival and family fun day was born out of a desire to give something back to the community. The fact that it is now the longest-running event of its kind is due in part to the demands of that same community.
"One year, I decided that I was going to take a break, but when word got out that I wasn't going to keep the festival a group of students literally blocked the road on me and I had to give them audience," McDonald explained.
"They convinced me that it was the only thing they had to look forward to annually and that I couldn't do that to the community. The thought of not keeping it never crossed my mind again."
Started in 1998, the festival is a mixture of kite flying, entertainment and family-oriented activities. The kite-flying competition, which usually attracts scores of contestants, is divided into two categories - adults and children. Judging is done based on presentation and creativity and all kites have to be home-made.
Over the years, the quality of kites entered have improved and have been described as "amazingly outstanding" by the organiser.
As a result of this, he explained, judges have been hard-pressed over the years to select winners in the best overall kite category. This, in itself, has served as a drawcard for patrons.
"The kite competition is truly a major draw," McDonald said.
"The contestants have been very creative and each year you can always expect to see a new model kite for the first time."
This year, the entertainment package will feature the likes of Elephant Man and Bounty Killer.
There will also be a wide range of rides and attractions for children, who will again be admitted free of cost.
Attractions will include bounceabout, mechanical bull, water slides, rock climbing, trains, and merry-go-round. Gates open 10 a.m.