The international kite festival in Dieppe France is clearly one of the great kite gatherings on the planet. For ten days, fliers from around the world gather here to share their kiting culture, flying secrets, and friendship.
For 2006, 27 nations were represented. And while it may be a bit of a stretch to list Tasmania as distinct from Austrlia, or to invite Jose Sainz of San Diego to represent Mexico (his nation of birth), the fact remains that more than twenty countries — ranging from Italy to Indonesia and Canada to Cambodia — is impressive.
Each country fills a pavillion with kites, maps, and materials to sare with the public and educate the throngs of children prowling the booths with school assignments in hand. Some of the displays are dramatic artwork. Some are more commerical or craft oriented. And then there are some — like the flying underpants of England — that defy catigorization…
Easily 100,000 spectators surround the marked flying fields. And nearby on the pebble beach, large kites are lofted along the edge of the English Channel. The two distinct zones allow for a show kite backdrop and a closer look at art kites and creations on the main fields. What impresses me is the cultural blend that is emerging from kiters who attend these international gatherings. We see ripstop and carbon roks from India and applique from Indonesia along side the historical canvass and spruce reproductions of Europe.
The USA does not offer an event like Dieppe. Few of our festivals have the funding and staff to support a hundred guests, the sponsor demands, and the advanced press relations needed to pull it all off. Europe has an advantage in that there are a dozen countries in an area the size of Texas. But that doesn’t explain the credit Dieppe earns drawing fliers from Central Asia, the Far East, North America, and the South Pacific.
Sunday morning, a kite parade winds though town with horns, drums, whistles and bells. Locals wave and applauud from their windows and balconies — many still in their night clothes.
Dieppe is traditionally held in September of even numbered years. The gathering last ten days — including two weekends. In recent years, the sister city of Dieppe Canada has begun to offer an international event in the odd years, buildng on the momentum and model developed in France. And the good news is that Canada is within resonable driving range for many kiters in the States.
Whether you choose France or Canada, Dieppe is well worth the investment to get a real taste of the wide and wonderful kite world out there. Susan and I left Dieppe early Monday to join our team assembling in Cape Town for a kite tour of South Africa. According to the onboard computer, we’re 35,000 feet over the Sahara now and flying south at 550 miles an hour. We can’t ship while were on the road, but we can give you a taste of the “Safari Series” we’re working on with Pedro and Estaban Gonzalez of Spain. The Elephant is available now. Watch for the rest in January!
We’ll have plenty of news in the coming weeks so check back our site soon! With luck, we’ll give you some real safari animal pics!!
See you out there somewhere!