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Georgetown Kite Festival saved

GEORGETOWN — The colorful festival that draws thousands of people to Central Kentucky each year to play with the wind will proceed next weekend, but on a much smaller scale.

Several factors, including a change in management at the Cardome Centre, resulted in two cancellations of this year's Georgetown Kite Festival. But volunteer Paul M. Poland joined city officials and members of the Kite Fliers in Central Kentucky, also known as K.I.C.K, to ensure that the event would continue.

"We are going to have a kite festival without a doubt," Poland said Friday. "It's too important to not have."

The kite festival, usually a two-day event, will not extend through Sunday this year. It also will lack the vendors, entertainment and educational programs of years past, said Sherry Williams, former Cardome director.

But Yuko-En on the Elkhorn, the Kentucky-Japan Friendship Garden adjacent to the Cardome, will host the Cherry Blossom Festival beginning at noon the same day. The cultural festival will include family activities, food and entertainment. The kite festival has always coincided with garden activities, Williams said.

The event has grown from about 300 attendees at Georgetown's first kite festival to at least 8,000. The event has attracted people from more than 10 states each of the past three years.

This year's event encountered a number of problems, including a Cardome management change, Williams said. Last month, the city leased the Cardome to a nonprofit organization that plans to create the Museum of the Written Word. The museum is expected to include an outdoor theater, cyber café, exhibits detailing the history of the written word and a reproduction of the Gutenberg press.

The changes created a gray area in terms of who would organize the kite festival. Then there was little time to plan once helpers were in place, Williams said.

Poland said he plans to search for a community group, such as a Rotary or Lions club, to organize the kite festival next year, which will coincide with the city's 20th anniversary of the relationship between Georgetown and Tahara-cho, Japan, its sister city.

Georgetown's festival was created to honor Tahara-cho, which is known for its kite festivals.

Poland said the anniversary was one reason the festival needed to continue this year.

"It had to happen," he said. "In my opinion, we didn't really have a choice."