Issue 74: Antelope Island Stampede

The Antelope Island Stampede is a community event held on Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The event is owned by the Davis Area CVB and is registered as a nonprofit, started originally as a balloon festival over 5 years ago, it is on its way to becoming a premier kite gathering for an area that has little exposure to kiting as most of us know it.

For a year the planning committee worked on the planned elements during the 2010 Antelope Island Stampede. I envisioned many things, who would be really good to see fly their kites, what the perfect conditions would be like, how to stay under budget, would I bring my dogs or not. So many seemingly important issues. I read John’s article on events, about the cooperative effort between organizers, fliers and vendors to really introduce kiting to the public. The concept was very appealing.

As the organizer for the kite part of this event I can say that as a committee we worked hard on this event, this was the second official year that the kites were included and at the risk of sounding prejudiced, the kites rocked this event.

What happened with the group of Kite minded folks who attended was magical; the synergy that was created on the Island will stay with those who attended for a long time. But it was not just the kites that made this event great, it was the people; the Committee members who worked so hard to get it all together. The vendors, over 30 this year, all kinds of food, mechanical bull rides, kids bouncing area, climbing walls, arts and crafts plus more. Bands throughout the weekend. Hot Air balloons, launching in the mornings and perform glows at night. All combined for a truly outstanding time this year.

Attending this year as guest were John, TK, JD, Bazzer, Steve and David from iQuad, Ron Gibian, Penny Lingenfelter, Jug Buckles, Kevin Reynolds, Kent Kingston and Scott Hampton.

Then there were the local fliers and their families, who to be honest were the backbone of this part of the Stampede, thank you! Without the help of the families that supported the kite fliers this year, it might well have been a different story being written now.

This was the plan;

Wednesday, one trip to the airport, go fly fishing.

Thursday, 3 trips to the airport, get them to the rooms and attend 6 pm social.

Friday, 3 school demos, lunch, head out to the island to set up and Fly Kites

Saturday, Fly Kites

Sunday, Fly Kites

Monday, 4 trips to the airport.

Simple Right? This is how it happened, pretty much…..

Wednesday, September 1st 2010

Picked Ron up at the airport, drove to our private fishing guide’s house, Bethanie Wilson and headed up to the middle Provo River for some fly fishing. I have never been fly fishing and to be honest my head was into the next 3 to 4 days. The fishing was very nice, I caught the first two fish, Ron enjoyed himself and it was a great distraction.

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Antelope Island Stampede pre event social at 6 pm. Got everyone from the airport to their hotels okay, despite the apparent alarm issues J, I had already decided to really try not to stress on anything, go with the flow and handle it.

Right…. So we all meet at Roosters in Layton Utah for the social, meeting the committee members, sponsors, state and county officials, the balloon pilots and the kite fliers. It was a good time but really; let’s get to the kite flying part already!!

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 AM

I have scheduled three kite demos for three different schools along the Wasatch Mountain front in Davis County. Sending Penny Lingenfelter, along with my wife Lynne Rae and AJ from Breaking Wind Kite store in Cedar City, north the South Weber Elementary for an outdoor demo. It was to have been an indoor demo but the floor for the gym was being refinished. A fact I did not find about until the week before. Thank you Penny for your flexibility. I have Bazzer, Steve and David going to West Bountiful Elementary with Kevin Reynolds and Jeff Thomlinson, a local flier, for another outdoor demo. Then there is John, TK, and JD, Ron Gibian, Jug Buckles and myself doing an indoor demo for Central Davis Junior high. All these are scheduled for 10 am and I can only be at one of them, god bless cellular technology. The plan was for all the demos is to run about 30 to 40 minutes, entertain the kids, teachers and administration, then meet back at Roosters for lunch, then head out to the island by 2pm. How all this happened, per plan, is beyond me but was an indication of things to come.

I just didn’t know it. All 3 demos ended with in 5 minutes of each other.

Friday, September 3rd, 3010 PM

So we make it out to the island before 2 pm, lunch was excellent and the tab for food was covered by Barbara Riddle, the Co-chair for the committee and the CEO for the Davis Area CVB. I have arranged for several friends that have trailers to park right alongside the flying field and the plan this time was to have them all there by 3pm to get set up for the 5 pm scheduled start. Once again everything worked per plan, HMMMM…..

So we are set up, there are some kites in the air, people are starting to show up and there is a light wind. The country, sort of rock band starts playing, I had a Rok in the air, flying over the stage, having fun with it. I suggested to John that a few of the iQuad team should go fly in the middle of the crowd, on short lines in a clearing. What happened was all 6 team members, on long lines flew in the middle of the crowd, slowly making the clearing bigger. The band kept playing and before you knew it, iQuad and the band are performing as one, with iQuad doing impromptu routines to the music, the crowd was literally 5 feet back all the way around. At the end of each song the crowd is applauding and even the lead singer thanked them and the kites; Talk about bringing it to the people, this was almost a spiritual.

So late afternoon turns to early evening and the balloonist are getting ready to set up for a night Glow, during their safety meeting JD and I walk over to see if they are going to set up and I asked them if they did set up, would it be okay for the quads to fly around them. One said no, but another who we had been showing the Rev’s to said sure, no problem. WOW, the guys were pretty excited about this but what happened was even greater. They were not only flying around the Balloon, but landing on it, all 6, then bursting out, bouncing off the balloon. Steve told me that he could feel the balloon being blown up thru his kite lines. Friday was amazing.

Saturday, September 4th 2010

The weather says it was going to be hot and it was. We had intermittent winds, very flyable most of the day, but on the light side. Lots of water and Gatorade.

So I am thinking about the night before and wondering how to top it or even if that was possible. Penny and iQuad do several routines. Penny does her cat in the hat deal and it’s like 95 degrees, what a trooper. The sky has some sort of kite in the air all day and most of the day there are quads, dual lines, and SLK’s, sharing the same field. Kent Kingston is out on the field almost the entire day, teaching people to fly quads and duals, various numbers of the iQuad team are flying, solo, pairs, threesomes. A pretty great day of flying, then towards the end of the day, a helium filled blimp on steroids comes out, 15 feet long, red and fast. This thing can go straight up, then straight down and to a stop without effort. Next thing ya know it is surrounded by Rev’s, the zeppelin pilot was all too happy to play with the guys and the result was astounding, finalized with a burst that was caught on video. The balloon glow that night was a good one, 4 balloons. I look around and Bazzer, JD, David, Kevin Reynolds and his dad are all crewing for the balloons, holding down the tether lines. John and Steve flying their Revs all around them, people everywhere. The crowd was huge and there were no lines of distinction for balloons, kites and crowds, it was a huge mass of activity, excitement and smiles.

The evening ended with a short, but first of its kind on the island, fireworks display from the beach and so the day ended around 10:30 pm. Can things really be going this smoothly?

Sunday, September 5th 2010

The forcast for today was cooler and windy, with a front that was supposed to push thru late in the day. Well the wind did blow, up and down in the 5 to 15 mph range for most of the day. The large kites had a glorious day, swaying to and fro, shifting with the wind and up almost all day. Jug Buckles had several kites in the air at almost any given time, same with Ron and Jeff Thomlinson.

Penny had her small kites on sticks set up and there were kids abusing those things all weekend, what a sight, it was great. It was a casual day, in the Morning John Barresi got up on the stage and talked to the crowd about the kites and the kite fliers on the field, answered questions and generally informed the people about what we were doing, why we were doing it and encouraging them to try it.

At around 5:30 pm we were getting ready to have a mass ascension, mega fly, get em all up in the air grand finale. There were already about 10 or more kites in the air when the front came in. The wind gusted up to at least 40 mph,(just a guess)all of the sudden, kites went all over the place, some with minor frame damage, some broke their flight lines. The wind continued to blow at least 25 to 30 mph. This part was for me the soul blending of the event and I will tell you why. We as a group, everyone that was there to fly kites or support the flying of kites on the field all sprang into action, everybody helped everybody gather kites, wind up lines, chase down escaped kites, recover downed kites and pack everything up. Once done, we, as a group walked the entire flight field for trash, kite accessories and debris. There was a commonality between all and I think we all felt it. We were tired, dirty, fulfilled and happy. We left the island as we arrived, in a caravan of cars, trucks and trailers, on our way to Roosters for dinner and this is where it got really good. The restaurant closed at 9 pm, we started showing up at about a qtr to, 30 people were allowed to enter, order dinner, celebrate and take pictures until around 11:30 pm, no one wanted to leave, everybody was hugging, a real love fest! For Roosters part, the service was fantastic, the food was excellent and the beer was pretty good too.

I will say is this; Each and every event out there, large and small, has the potential to be great. What makes it great is the energy that is brought by participates, the interaction with the crowd and the educational aspects offered to the general public. The support of the organizing body helps a lot and a willingness to perform what we all claim as our passion. The remaining factor is that mystic and hard to find chemistry between all involved. At Antelope Island this year, we flew our kites with the people, not for them.

Kevin Bayless