The reporter, in a bushy gray beard, John Deere baseball cap, and one eye-patch, leaned toward me with a question.
In Jamestown last weekend, we got hammered by the prairie winds. Forecasts announced projections of 8 to 35. And they were right on the money. But despite the unusual conditions, we had an exceptional time and a really great fly.
If ever anyone complains to me that they don’t have any local kite activities, I’ll point to what is going on in North Dakota.
Two guys — Mike Gee and Chris Dodson have been organizing this gathering for ten years. The Parks Department provides and prepares their fields, the City helps with funding now, and the public in this small community turn out in a big way. Fliers from a three state area gather each June for fun and fellowship. And the results are quite remarkable.
Simply put, if we had not been wrestling with unusual winds, we would have had a world class kite show in the air. Artists like Barb Meyer, Deb Lenzen, Mike Shaw, JoAnn Webber and Sharon Musto graced the Jamestown skies.
There were kitemaking tents for kids, sport kite lessons, and exhibits by craftsman like Charlie Sotich. And for big kites, we had Al Sparling, Larry Day, Brian Champie and Don Murphy.
Flying “largish” kites in strong and blustery wind is a constant physical rush. Kites go up, kites come down. Lines wrap and twist. You watch anchors and worry about safety. You fly one kite instead of several. You fret that you aren’t doing enough to support the event, but don’t want to compromise safety by flying more than you can save if something goes wrong. And you keep an eye on the kids.
At one point, as children swarmed around the big Caterpillar, the announcer’s voice boomed out across the field. “Step away from the Caterpillar, please!”. Children froze in their tracks and moved away. I liked that. But I wondered where their folks were…
I guess the main thing I’d say about Jamestown, other than the classy group of fliers, the well organized fields, and the informal efficiency of the program, was that we had fun.
This was the fourth trip in four weeks for the Gombergs with less time at home than on the road. Enroute to “NoDak”, we stopped off in Colorado for a vist to the good folks at Into the Wind and a fine birthday-dinner out. We then flew on to Fargo and connected to Jamestown, a bit road-weary but quickly re-juvinated in the upbeat atmosphere.
OK, ok…. I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Photos are probably already posted to other sites and rumors circulating. I might as well explain my new ‘girlfriend’.
The Saturday party was well underway when a woman in baggy stockings, a moth-eaten sweater, and thick make-up appeared in the doorway. Her appearance made it clear that she’d come to Jamestown the hard way. And the worst part was that she was calling my name….
Now this lady, whom I swear I’d never met before, knew all about me. She had stories about the recent runaway kite in Washington, my life in the AKA, and the size of my… Octopus. Then, with the crowd watching, she began to perform a frightening sort of bag-lady lap dance and covered my face with sticky red lipstick. Finally when she seemed to be zeroing in on my mouth, I backed away.
Oh, those wacky NoDak fliers. The things they think up when the snow is deep outside.
Of course, I really did appreciate the attention, and am quite relieved there were children in the room. Even Susie seemed entertained. But God knows what might have happened if my ‘friend’ had removed many more layers….
I also enjoyed a special birthday cake and found some consolation when the blue icing turned everyone’s teeth and gums black.
I’ll say again that it is amazing what a couple of committed organizers can accomplish.
In a relatively small community, distant from other fliers and in an area about as far from a beach as you can get, kiting is thriving. For ten years, the Jamestown Festival has been growing and if the billboards scattered around town, or the smile of the face of the Park Manager are any indication, it will continue to grow for ten more. Try to get there if you can!
Thanks again for a great time!
Susie and I are actually home for a few weeks and plan to catch up on shipping, new product design, and a bit of quality time on the deck at sunset. Next up will be the Lincoln City Festival on June 26. And the best part is that it will be just a few miles from home. See you there!