Spring is definitely in the air and kites should be, too! On Saturday, April 1, you have the perfect opportunity to make that happen and send a kite soaring skyward. Prefer a more down-to-earth pursuit? This event offers that, as well.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

By Peg Cameron Gill

The characters in Mary Poppins had it right: Flying a kite is one of the simple spring pleasures we should all enjoy. Luckily, the Springfield Botanical Gardens has an awesome event that can help “launch” Missourians into spring in style.

On Saturday, April 1,  from 11 am to 4 pm, the Springfield Gardens is hosting its 2023 Cherry Blossom & Kite Flying & Pinata Festival.  You can bring your own kite to fly on the Great Lawn or purchase a kite kit for $7, with cash or a credit card. The kit allows you to build and decorate your own kite.

Kids can also line up for a more down-to-earth pursuit: The chance to whack a colorful pinata. Hey, it’s baseball season, and batting is certainly a part of our Cards and Royals concerns!  While baseball batters are sending balls skyward, young pinata players can score a sweet victory with a direct hit.

Attendees can also enjoy live cultural performances and browse a mini market, featuring Japanese and Mexican snacks, candies, beverages, and souvenirs. Visitors can also take advantage of free admission to the Mitsumoto Japanese Stroll Gardens from 10 am to 7 pm, and view the historic Gray-Campbell Farmstead between the hours of 11 am to 4 pm.

Sample food from Xurros, Omo Japanese Soul Food, Parks Concessions, and more yet to be announced.

A bit more about kites: They made their way into life and cultural practices in the East through trade routes (Korea, Japan, and India) quite early on, and each region developed its own kite-style and festivals/occasions to fly them. In Europe, kite flying fostered scientific study and was largely a children’s game (though both World Wars saw the use of kites). 

An interesting aside: Columbia resident author Alex Geoge penned a best-selling novel published in 2017, called Setting Free the Kites.  

It tells the story of Robert Carter, whose life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous — and fascinated by kites and flying. 

Unforgettable and heart-breaking, Setting Free the Kites is a poignant and moving exploration of the pain, joy, and glories of young friendship.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

Even if you haven’t read George’s book, come enjoy the uplifting experience of kite flying at Springfield’s Cherry Blossom & Kite Flying & Pinata Festival. 

Remember to bring your lawn chairs or blankets and watch cultural performances by local and regional groups, as you enjoy an outdoor outing amid early spring temps.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.