Hero Image

Art & Wind Festival: Friends in Flight

How the San Ramon Art & Wind Festival led to a friendship with Weifang, China.

Every Memorial Day weekend, the City of San Ramon offers a two-day, family-friendly event that captures the traditions of kite flying, while showcasing local artists, makers and entertainers. While the event engages the local community, the San Ramon Art & Wind Festival also has an international reach.

San Ramon has teamed up with Weifang, China, which is known as the “Kite Capital of the World,” for their annual festival, a partnership formed at the suggestion of community member Kay Wang. Originally from Taiwan, and founder of Bay Valley Chinese School, Danville resident Wang has a passion for both her eastern and western roots. In 2006, Wang visited the Weifang International Kite Museum on a whim. In awe of the history and beauty she discovered on her trip, Wang sought to bring the kites, and their history, stateside.

Through collaboration with the City of San Ramon, Weifang’s foreign affairs director and community support, Wang helped to forge a relationship between the kite-loving cities. In 2011, six members of the Weifang kite delegation were the festival’s guests of honor, and authentic Weifang kites are for sale at the annual event. And the relationship doesn’t stop there.

2015 Weifang International Kite Festival . Photo ourtesy of Andy Li

2015 Weifang International Kite Festival. Photo courtesy of Andy Li

In the fall of 2014, San Ramon’s mayor Bill Clarkson met with Liu Shuguang, mayor of Weifang. The meet and greets were held in San Ramon, and while talks centered on kites, other economic growth possibilities were also explored. Clarkson stated that, “Kites created this window of opportunity to have a conversation about future business partnerships.”

Additionally, two local kite flyers were invited to this year’s Weifang International Kite Festival, along with Wang. The event is world renowned, and draws thousands of visitors from around the globe each year. Wang recounts that the festivalgoers enjoyed seeing “Americanized” techniques at work, and it helped solidify the relationship between the cities.

Double Mayor selfie. Photo courtesy Kate Wang.

Double Mayor selfie. Photo courtesy Kate Wang.

The first international kite festival was held in Weifang in 1984, and San Ramon followed suit just a few years after. The festival started as a street fair in 1987, and by 1990 it had transformed into a two-day affair that brought the community, visitors, and international kite-enthusiasts together.

May 24-25, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.,
San Ramon Central Park

by Sarah Schultz