EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a complicated situation, and we hope with this information we can clear up some of the confusion. A survey being distributed by a local newspaper is inaccurately worded, suggests that the date of the Rockaway Beach Kite Festival can be moved this year which is not true. This has added false information to an already complicated issue. The Kite Festival organized by the Rockaway Beach Chamber would like the City to allow the Kite Festival to continue to use the wayside as before THIS year, on Memorial Day weekend since it was already booked/scheduled prior to the change of use with the Wayside. A petition to support keeping the Kite Festival is at https://www.thepetitionsite.com/395/441/911/save-the-kite-festival/?taf_id=33954853&cid=fb_na#bbfb=333838629
Concerned citizens are also asked to attend the Rockaway Beach City Council Meeting on March 8th at 6 pm to voice their opinions about the issue.
Here is a timeline of the issue — note the 2017 Kite Festival was booked prior to the July 2016 City Council resolution regarding the use of the Wayside.
By Lani High, Rockaway Beach Chamber
Rockaway Beach Oregon has one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the coast. Families come from all over to admire the scenery and play on the beach. One of the most popular draws to this little community is the annual Kite Festival held over Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, it looks as though this 40 year tradition may come to an abrupt halt.
In July 2016 the Rockaway City Council passed a resolution (Resolution 16-646) preventing the use of the Ocean’s Edge Wayside for private groups during holidays. The community was told that this was due to complaints by businesses about the lack of parking during events at the Wayside during holidays. The council, although they did have the resolution on the agenda, did not make the businesses, residents, or the Chamber of Commerce aware of the upcoming vote.
The Kite Festival is sponsored by the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, and is a private event held by the American Kite Association. The Chamber reserved the 2017 Memorial Day date a full year in advance. Once aware of the situation, the Chamber contacted the American Kite Association (AKA) to see if they could perform on an alternate weekend. Because they book a year in advance they are not able to move on such short notice.
The Chamber president had emailed the City council requesting a meeting to discuss the situation, but didn’t receive a response. During a subsequent meeting it was stated that the request needed to be sent in a letter, which was forwarded January 10, 2017. The Chamber of Commerce also forwarded the application for use of the Wayside on November 20, 2016.
Not only is the Kite Festival fun, but it generates revenue for the town of Rockaway. Primarily a tourist area, the local hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants and shops depend on the visitors who come into town to enjoy the festival. Rooms and rentals are frequently booked up to a year in advance. Rockaway Beach anticipates between four to five thousand visitors on Memorial Day weekend for the festival.
Various vendors come to show off and sell their wares, and their booth rental fees help subsidize costs for the festival. Due to the delay with the application request from the city, the festival is in financial jeopardy. Although in the past the event has been funded entirely by the Chamber of Commerce, it has been requested that monies in the tourism budget be assigned to help with any shortfall.
The City of Rockaway does not have any issues with events on the beach itself. Since the vendors would not be able to use the Wayside to set up their booths the Chamber is looking for reasonable alternative locations as well as other options for funding the festival.
Public support for the Kite Festival has been overwhelming, with letters and emails coming into the Chamber and the city requesting that the festival be allowed. It would be a shame, not only from the financial side, but for the families that have brought their children and grandchildren here over the years to enjoy and participate in the Kite Festival.