Leaders of the American Kitefliers Association were in Enid Monday, surveying the city’s facilities in advance of the group’s national convention, which will take place in October.
AKA President Barbara Meyer, of Maple Grove, Minn., said the group selected Enid for its 35th annual convention because Enid offers “wide open spaces, good wind and a welcoming community.”
With a membership of more than 3,000 people in 25 countries, AKA is billed as the world’s largest organization representing “the art, history, technology, and practice of building and flying kites.”
Meyer said AKA expects to bring about 200 members to its convention, Oct. 1-6, for kite demonstrations, contests, forums and group flying sessions.
Meyer and several other AKA members arrived in Enid Monday to tour the city with the Enid Convention and Visitors Bureau and make final plans for the convention.
“We’ve been checking out the facilities, making our final plans and finding out what goes where, so we can go back to our membership and get them excited about coming here,” Meyer said.
She said Enid offers AKA members a central location in the country, lots of wind and few obstructions.
“We like the fact it’s a different part of the country, and it gives our members who live in the center part of the country a chance to come to the convention,” Meyer said. “The main thing we like about Oklahoma is you have a lot of wind, without much in the way of trees or buildings. It’s not just that it’s windy, it’s that you have smooth and consistent wind that’s not being broken up.”
Meyer said AKA also was drawn to Enid by the “reasonable cost for hotels, catering and associated services.”
Richard Dermer, of Stillwater, said AKA has an unofficial policy of rotating the convention between the East and West coasts and the Midwest.
The closest the convention has come to Enid in the past was Lubbock, Texas, in 1992 and Tulsa in 1995.
Dermer said Kites Over Enid, which attempted to set a Guinness World Record for the most kites in the air at one time in 2009 and 2010, helped pave the way for the AKA convention.
AKA will use the same space utilized by Kites Over Enid for its outdoor events, a large open field behind Autry Technology Center.
The convention also will utilize Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s indoor baseball practice facility for indoor kite flying competitions.
Dermer said public kite-flying displays will be available 1-4 p.m. every day of the convention at the Autry Tech field.
“When you get 200 kites up in the air in a small area, it’s quite a spectacle,” Dermer said. “We’re going to try to put a good show on for the public.”
Meyer said she and her fellow AKA members are looking forward to returning to Enid for their convention. And, she said, the community has been very receptive.
“We find smaller communities like Enid are much more excited about us coming to town,” Meyer said. “We can have a much bigger impact here than we would have going to a larger city.”
Enid Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Marcy Jarrett said the AKA convention will have a significant impact on Enid, both in initial dollars spent and increased visibility for the city.
“It puts Enid on the radar for other national conventions,” Jarrett said. “This will help us as we continue to go after more groups to come to Enid.
“It will bring a lot of people from all over the country, people who may not have even known Enid exists. It will help show off Enid to a whole new group of people, and that’s what it’s all about ... making Enid known to more people.”