By SCOTT McCLOSKEY
Special to the Herald-Star
WELLSBURG - Robert Strong, director of SMART Centre Market, hopes to see plenty of kite and astronomy enthusiasts at Brooke Hills Park this Saturday for two back-to-back, free family-friendly events.
The Seventh Annual West Virginia Kite Festival is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Brooke Hills Park's Cardinal Shelter, while nighttime planet and star observation is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the same location as part of celebrating National Astronomy Day.
"The last several years people have been bringing some amazing kites to the festival," said Strong, who started the festival nearly seven years ago with his wife, Libby.
"We went to the ... store and found 100 kites ... a bunch of kids showed up, we assembled kites, we flew kites - it was a great day," said Strong.
He said weather permitting, he hopes to see a variety of colorful kites in the sky above Brooke Hills Park.
"My goal is, I would like to see at one time 100 or more kites in the blue sky. I think that would be awesome," he added. "If you have a kite that you take to the beach, Cardinal Shelter at Brooke Hills Park is the perfect place to bring that."
Strong said members of a local amateur radio club plan to raise a wire antenna high enough in the air so they can talk to people in Australia during the event. He said the first 100 children to attend will receive a free kite, and a kite vendor is scheduled to be on site for those interested in purchasing more elaborate kites.
The nighttime star watch observations will include telescope observations of the moon and planets, Venus, Mars, Saturn and its rings, and star and constellation hunts.
"We're all going to bring our telescopes and if anyone in the public wants to bring their telescope, we would be delighted to have them," Strong added.
The event is co-sponsored by SMART-Center, Brooke Hills Park, ASTROLABE Astronomy Club, Near Earth Object Foundation and SMART Centre Market and is funded in part by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.
For information, call the SMART Centre Market at (304) 233-4667 or visit www.smartcenter.org.