Issue 1: Round Rock Kite Festival

The 1st Annual Round Rock Kite Festival, held March 21-22 in Round Rock, Texas, was the season opener of the AKA central sport kite conference . Kitefliers from six different states participated in the event. The festival was coordinated by Dennis Phillips who remarked, “I couldn’t have asked for better weather.” Dennis was right! Both days of the event saw crystal clear skies with temperatures in the low 80’s. Mr.& Mrs. Bob Sterling of New Jersey were the biggest surprise attendees at this event. Bob filled the skies both days with his flowforms, three of which were 252 square feet and one that was 450 square feet. BTW, Bob won the award for best sky display with his kites. Tom Arbster, owner of Kinetic Kites in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, placed second in the single line aerial display with two Sutton 252’s & a giant 750 square foot flowform. Third place in this category went to Dick Bell. Dick displayed many of his self-made creations including replicas of George Peters’ kites (Catman, Birdman), a 250 sq. ft. flowform, and spiked balls that were 10 ft. in diameter.

Kites of all shapes and sizes graced the skies, flown by new and veteran kiters alike. There were more large kites flying at this festival than many of the larger festivals I’ve been to. It was a sight to behold!

Sport Kite competitions saw the emergence of many new competitors. Collette Ratajski and I were the competition coordinators for the event. We recruited Keith Anderson to help out with the judging and between the three of us, we witnessed many spectacular performances. Part of the reason for this was that all three of us judged almost every sport kite competition category on the schedule, mainly because of a lack of qualified judges. The hot fliers and event winners were:

  • Alex Lee
  • Kevin Kirkendoll
  • Dennis Phillips
  • Tye Harrison,
  • Keith Anderson
  • Troy Gunn
  • Pairs: Reasonable Doubt
  • Team: Austin E.O.L.

A new team with definitely one of the strangest names I’ve ever heard (team HI-DE-HI-HI-DE-HO) made their debut performance and, although their routine lacked content, they flew flawlessly. This was pretty spectacular considering both members (Mike “Wiz” Christy, Aaron McCulley) have only been flying kites for three months. I asked Mike and Aaron what their secret for getting over the first time jitters was. They answered, ” We decided to each drink about six beers an hour before we competed, so we could relax”. When asked why the nickname “Wiz?,” Mike replied, ” Well, I like to drink a lot of beer, and you can guess the rest”.

Southwest Sport Kite League (SWSKL) coordinator Frank Kenisky created a ‘most outstanding volunteer’ award to be given away at each of the SWSKL events. To qualify for this award, the recipient must meet the following criteria: they can’t be compensated in any way for their work, they go the extra mile to help out with running the event wherever and whenever needed (without being asked), and they are not related to the event coordinators in any way. Round Rock was the first event at which the awards were given, and the winner was Keith Anderson of Peerland, TX. Keith helped judge almost every sport kite competition category except for the two events that he competed in. He even did all this without without complaining! Congratulations Keith; events need more volunteers like you! BTW, the awards were handcrafted by Frank Kenisky–stained and painted wooden trophies in the shape of the SWSKL logo. Frank also handled announcing duties at this festival and was the auctioneer for the kite auction.

Complete Sportkite Scores

Class/Rank Score

1: Alex Lee 64.53
2: Rick McGaffey 53.73
3: John Gilardi 52.96
4: John Binder 52.03
5: Evan Kirkendoll 43.90
6: Jim Wood 39.73
7: Jeff Coffey DQ

1: Kevin Kirkendoll 56.93
2: Jim Cox 54.66
3: Stephen Ploof 54.46
4: Ira Shields 52.93
5: Tony McCreedy 50.00
6: Joseph Hunt 49.93
7: Mike Christy 42.66
8: Aaron McCuller DQ

1: Dennis Phillips 62.60
2: Eddie Zihlman 52.33

1: Troy Gunn 78.60
2: Keith Anderson 75.20
3: Richard Widmyer DQ

1: Kevin Kirkendoll 60.60
2: Tony McCreedy 58.66
3: Ira Shields 53.80
4: Stephen Ploof 50.93
5: Aaron McCuller 43.26
6: Mike Christy 17.20

1: Dennis Phillips 56.66
2: Eddie Zihlman 55.53

1: Troy Gunn 72.26
2: Keith Anderson 71.00
3: Richard Widmyer DQ

(Open Freestyle)
1: Troy Gunn 85.20

1: Tye Harrison 73.13

1: Dennis Phillips 56.09
2: Tony McCreedy 40.20
3: Stephen Ploof 16.60
4: Joseph Hunt DQ

1: HI-DE-HI-HI-DE-HO 59.46
(Aaron McCuller, Mike Christy)

1: Reasonable Doubt 70.00
(Dennis Phillips, Tony McCreedy)

1: Austin E.O.L. 54.33
(Eddie Zihlman, Jim Cox, Stephen Ploof, Kevin Kirkendoll)
2: Crosswind Traffic 38.25
(Dennis Phillips, Aaron McCuller, Tony McCreedy, Mike Christy)

1: Austin E.O.L. 65.26
2: Crosswinds Traffic 34.53

(Best Single Line Display)
1: Bob Sterling
2: Tom Arbster
3: Joel Scholz

Other highlights of the festival included a great barbeque dinner that preceeded the kite auction, and a night fly that featured two Live Bands playing at the edge of the competition field until midnight.

A percentage of the proceeds from the event will be donated to The Jason Foundation to help youth. Event sponsors were: Corporate Imaging, ADCS Limited, and World Wind Kites.

If Round Rock is any indication of the type of festivals that are in store for kiters in this region, we’re looking forward to the best season ever!

Troy Gunn