SAN RAMON -- It's that time of year again: San Ramon's signature festival, its Art and Wind Festival, is back for Memorial Day weekend with a colorful and eye-catching array of professional kite-flying events, kite-making workshops and entertainment.
An East Bay favorite, the festival draws 40,000 to 60,000 revelers each year over two days, said Mary Ann Wilkman, recreation supervisor for the city. This year's event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday at San Ramon Central Park, 12501 Alcosta Blvd.
The free festival is the city's tribute to the wind, Wilkman said. It's the only festival of its kind in the Bay Area that combines both art and wind, she added.
This year, about 15 professional flying champions will return to the festival with their majestic, aerobatic kites to perform choreographed dances and amazing tricks in the sky, set to music. It is scheduled for both days on the Lucky A's Ballfield from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"The kite flyers perform a dance in the wind, with kites that are specially designed for intricate acrobatics," Wilkman said. "And each brings their own show they've perfected."
A free kite-making workshop will be offered both days, during which it's expected that individuals will craft about 2,000 to 3,000 kites.
Many people also bring in their own colorful and beautiful kites to fly, Wilkman said.
This year, however, the festival's traditional hot air balloon launch will not be offered, she said, because of the difficulty of waiting for the exact weather and wind conditions necessary to launch them at a reliable time. Also, the launch would take place so early -- at 6 a.m. -- that few attendees actually can enjoy the balloons.
"So instead of disappointing people with an aborted launch, we chose instead to enhance the festival with the new Birds of Prey experience and some added children's amusements that a greater number of people will be able to enjoy," she said.
The Birds of Prey exhibit will feature West Coast Falconry's live falcons, owls, vultures and hawks for attendees to admire perched on display, on the gloves of trainers or in cages. The group also will hold a bird presentation at the Amphitheater Stage at noon Sunday.
In addition, more than 150 talented artists will sell their handcrafted items, and four stages of entertainment will spotlight a variety of party bands, folk music, jazz and blues, puppet shows, Taiko drumming, ethnic dancers and more.
For more information, go to www.artandwind.com or call San Ramon Parks and Community Service at 925-973-3200.
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/joycetsainews.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday at Central Park, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon
For details, including a festival map, directions, entertainment schedule, go to www.artandwind.com.