Issue 73: Lincoln City Summer Festival

Well now… It seems like I darned near live here in Lincoln City, when I’m not living in either Vancouver, WA (our “official” home) or Long Beach, WA (our closest good “Flying” beach) that is… Anyway, I’ve been here often enough that the kite-van seems to know it’s way to Lincoln City all by itself. Down I-205 skirting Portland to I-5, head south to the Salem Parkway, hang a right on US-22, and follow your nose, taking the US-18 cut-off to the coast. Then take a left at US-101 and in about 3-4 miles, we’re “home” in Lincoln City again. Yeah, I made the trip down on Friday afternoon, June 25th.

When I say “home” I’m also kind of referring to a particular place to stay too – though it’s kinda hard to explain it because the owners keep changing the name of the place… When I first stayed there, it was the “Bel-aire Inn And Suites.” Then last year, they changed the name over to “The Farmer’s Daughter.” And this year, the new moniker is “The Inn At Wecoma.” Regardless of what they’re calling the place though, it’s a nice family place to stay, right on US-101, decent access to nearly everything, and not too expensive. And most important – it’s clean and comfortable. So since that combination is pretty hard to beat – I keep on going back to the same old place – regardless of what they’re calling it! This time, I’ll be rooming with my pal, Ben D’Antonio of Revolution kites.

Then it’s straight off to see what ‘s happening on “the beach.” In this case, the beach means the “D-River Wayside” right in the center of town. So, while everyone else had rolled in early and flown all afternoon, yours truly had been a laggard, and I was late. So a quick cellphone call located the fliers, and I agreed to meet them at BK Mulligan’s Sports Bar, right there close to the D-River Wayside, for some good food, cold beer, and great camaraderie. Nice to see all those folks again… Gosh, it’s been – what? Maybe two weeks? <> Still, most of ’em had a busy day of driving and flying, and since we all had a festival facing us in the morning maybe it made sense to chill out, relax a little and get some shut-eye – so we made an early night of it and drifted off to our various lodgings for the evening.

Ben D’Antonio of Revolution Kites and I were sharing a room at the “Inn” this time. Ben likes to whine and complain and put on airs about what a gruff old codger he is to share a room with, but I’ve long since seen through that particular smokescreen and we get on fine together. We share the room equitably, go to bed early, and get up shortly after the sun rises. We’ve a festival to attend! So it’s jump in the cars again and head off to the D-River Wayside – our “home beach” for the next couple of days.

If you’ve never been to Lincoln City, let me take a minute and explain about D-River Wayside. It’s a tiny “State Park” between US-101 and the Pacific Ocean – maybe 100 yards wide and 150 yards long… though I’m guessing there. The North side is bordered by the “D” River, which Lincoln City claims to be the shortest river in the world. D-River flows from Devil’s Lake on the east to the Pacific on the west – a distance of maybe 200 yards give-or-take. The “park” itself is mostly paved parking lot, with a permanent bathrooms facility and couple of openings onto the beach. The beach is sometimes 400-500 yards wide at very low tide, but it can also narrow to slightly less than 100 yards wide at extreme high tide, too. And that’s our venue for this festival.

Once I reach D-River Wayside, it’s obvious that everything is in a “prep” mode. Maggie Conrad’s tribe is doing their normal “fabulous” job already… The parking lot has a full compliment of attendants, the city’s maintenance crew is erecting tents, putting out flags, and setting up registration, kite-making, and sound tables as well as the “Food Booth” tent, the “big kite” folks are backing their trailers in and unloading, the sport kiters are laying out their camps on the beach and assembling their kites… The weather is cooperating too with clear skies and warm temperatures, so maybe Maggie has paid off Mother Nature, and – other than fairly low wind at the moment – we’ll be “Good To Go” shortly!

Maggie Conrad. Yeah, “organizers” sometimes don’t warrant much attention… It’s kind of a thankless job at times. But Maggie is truly the “reverse” of that concept – the so called “Poster Child” for how that job SHOULD be done. All necessary functions are accounted for. If specific parts, or pieces, or people are needed – they’re automatically just – THERE! All invited fliers have a place to stay. Everybody gets fed. Got a problem? Maggie already has your answer, and it’s usually a much better answer than what you’ve hoped for… And anybody who thinks it’s all done with mirrors is dead wrong – it’s all done with good old hard WORK, based on solid thinking and experience! There’s a real reason why I call her “Magnificent Maggie”… and you’re reading about it here! Lincoln City pays her salary so she’ll “handle” all this stuff, and she does it at least as well as any kite flier or any other “performer” on Lincoln City’s beach this weekend.

So, since I’ve arrived at the Wayside before 8:30 and the festival isn’t officially supposed to start until 10:00 AM, I walk south on US-101 for a couple of blocks to have some breakfast. I have my Standard “Road Breakfast.” Eggs over medium, potatoes, links, coffee – and hold the toast, ‘cuz I’ll never eat it anyway. Then it’s a quick stop at the coffee shop in between to fill up my traveling mug, and I’m ready for my day.

Back at the D-River Wayside, Bob Wendt is tuning up the sound system, most of the festival paraphernalia is set in place, the food tent is starting to exude tantalizing smells, the sport kite fliers are busy studying each other’s moves, and the big kite folks are filling the beach with huge hunks of rip-stop in preparation for hauling it all aloft… In other words – it’s all business as usual!

I stop over where Theresa is, and say “Hi.” She has her banners set up, plus one of those big Pterodactyl kites she’s flying on the end of a banner-pole. Rod and Cindy Thrall are close by on the beach. Rod has built a small flow-form as a ‘lifter” kite for Dale Ray’s “Dragon” – and the lifter shows an image of that Dragon superimposed over the moon. The effect of the flow-form kite is spectacular, and the whole combination of kites is stunning! So Rod and Dale are out there, admiring the product of Rods kite-building efforts.

Down by the water, those “quad-heads” have gathered, with Teams iQuad and Island Quad comparing tricks and sharing casual conversation. One of the nice things about this whole recent “quad” explosion is how cordial all of the fliers seem to be… Nobody’s at all “competitive,” but are more into sharing each other’s knowledge and flying techniques instead. I suspect that’s part of the reason that “quad-line flying” has progressed so quickly as a sport overall.

And up in the Announcer’s booth, Bob Wendt is busy getting this whole festival thing underway. And next thing you know, the “demo list” is growing, CDs are showing up, and demo pilots are out on the field in front of the crowd, putting kites through their paces. We gotta FESTIVAL, folks. The 2010 Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival is underway…

Demos… Yup, we got sport kite flying demonstrations – all day long, both days… So, rather than trying to retain some kind of an arbitrary sequence here, let me just tell you who flew and try to give you an idea of what you missed seeing. Alphabetically, the pilots were:

David Bradley – hails from Portland, OR. Dave flies SLKS, dual-line and quad-line kites. I saw him out there with a pretty Revolution, putting on a show a time or two.

Ben D’Antonio from San Diego, CA is the General Manager of Revolution Kites. Ben demos on occasion (and did so at this festival), but spends the majority of his time on the beach teaching other people to fly Revolution kites.

Amy Doran – A National Champion in Outdoor “Unlimited” events from Bend, OR. She performs mostly with her Revolution kites flying as “Charlie Chaplin” in her award-winning routine, and as someone named “Wall-E” from a Disney movie, and flies several other attractive Rev routines as well.

Connor Doran – The latest kiting “whiz-kid” on America’s Got Talent, and lives with his mom in Bend. Connor is flying Revolutions too, and enjoys demos to Jazz and Big-Band tunes out of the 40s and 50s. The kid with “the touch.

Paul de Bakker – A multi-time Dutch National Champ, Paul recently relocated from Wilmington, NC to Everett, WA where he’s an Ops Manager for Goodwinds Kites in Mount Vernon, WA. Paul flies a Focus dual-line kite of his own design, and he is one of the best fliers out there today.

Penny Lingenfelter – A quality performer with her Revolution kites from Gig Harbor, WA, and her routines include kids from the audience, everyone in costume, joining her to fly to Dr. Seuss stories.

Lam Hoac – A kite designer / builder that now lives in Vancouver, B.C. Lam is a long-time AKA Champion in both dual-line and quad-line events along with kitebuilding competitions. Lam is currently demoing and campaigning with his new Skysport Designs kite named “The Transformer.”

Team Island Quad – A quartet of talented pilots who all live on “islands,” including Mario di Lucca from Victoria, B.C., Terry Wiggill also from Victoria, as is Willow Robin, their distaff member. Brad Bixby is the lone Yank, coming from Whidbey Island, WA. Together, they fly Revolution kites as a Quad-team, and both individually and as pairs teams as well.

Team iQuad – “The original” US Quad-Line team flying Revolutions, consists of John Barresi and Takako Barresi from Portland, OR, Steve de Rooy from Victoria, B.C., Barry Poulter from Edgewood, WA, J.D. Fabich from Rogue River, OR, and David Hathaway from Vancouver, B.C. Flying as a 6-person team, and as individuals, and also in about any other configuration you can imagine! IQuad only competed as a team during their first year together (2006), preferring instead to demo the art and skill of Revolution Kite flying instead.

Gary MacEachern – Gary’s up from Brookings, OR, and is the owner of Oregon Kite Company. But in the past few year, Gary’s been focussing on flying multiple sport kites simultaneously. This year, Gary has brought 48 small kites, and we’ll discuss what he did with them below in a couple separate areas.

Kristian Slater – Kristian’s a young pilot from Tacoma, WA, in his first few years of dual-line flying. This youngster will be one of the best with a little more seasoning, and he’s a darned creditable pilot right now.

Al Washington – Al is a long-time festival demo-pilot from Portland, OR. Al flies dual-line sport kites to Blues and R&B tunes, and is a fascinating fellow to watch. As Al flies, he also “dances,” so we try to watch his body move right along with his kites.

Spencer Watson – Watty’s currently from Spokane, WA, but is soon off to college. He’s a youngster, but he is one of those who seems to “know no bounds” when it comes to flying kites. He prefers quad-line Revolution kites, but with Spence on the lines, it’s usually “no holds barred.” Innovation and enthusiasm are his hallmarks.

And over on the “Big Kite Field,” there’s another show going on. For the first time, there’s an organized group in residence, named “Team Suspended Animation.” This group had the opportunity to fly together at Rockaway Beach a few weeks earlier, and got to talking amongst each other – with “Team Suspended Animation” being the result. They consist of:

Barry and Susan Tislow
Russ and Diana Little
Ray and Donna Hertz
Gary and Mary Lee
Ed Paulson
Joyce Griner
Dale Ray

Between them, and along with Phil and Barb Burks, they would “color the sky” with big inflatable kites this weekend. At one time or another, we saw a dozen Peter Lynn Octopuses in the air, and a quartet of inflatable bears, a nice Peter Lynn Manta-Ray, Dale Ray’s marvelous inflatable Dragon kite, and a 91 foot-long Gecko – plus a host of big Suttons including pretty tails and spin-socks, and a host of other, smaller kites… I have heard that David Gomberg contributed half of those Octopus kites, plus three of the Bears, and perhaps even the Gecko too. I do know that Dale Ray owned five of the other Octopus kites, and Phil and Barb Burks also put up their very pretty Rainbow-tailed Octopus.

I’ll not say much more about Suspended Animation right now, but this is a group of folks who’ll be out there on the beach putting on a tremendous show wherever and whenever kite festivals are produced along the Northwest coast of the USA. I for one, am glad you’re finally getting “organized,” folks. We need a group we can call on for the big “Show” kites just as much as we need an organized sport kite group. Oh yes, David and Susan Gomberg will still reign supreme whenever they’re available, but Suspended Animation will probably be there to augment and supplement their displays as well.

Finally, there are those people who seem equipped to put on the festival itself – manning the information booth, handling registration, announcing or filling in, managing the demo field, and adding a lot of “color” on the beach. They’re folks like:

Ronda Brewer
Lindsey Johnson
Debby Cooley
Ken Tumminia
Dave Gomberg
Rod and Cindy Thrall
Bob and Donna Wendt
Jeremy, Zack, and Sam Colbert

Together along with Maggie Conrad and her crew – THEY ARE ALL folks we need to thank for putting on the Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival.

Now, let’s get back to the festival itself. Demos – already ongoing, in perpetuity… Big kites – going up, starting with big Suttons, but they’ll be replaced with big inflatables when winds to inflate/support them arrive… Usual and normal words and music from the PA system. Kids making kites. Parking staff dealing with “We’re all full.” Yup – fest in progress… Now where can I get some coffee?

Amy Doran is a normal “early starter,” so is out there flying to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and doing her usual awesome job…

Al Washington is also an early riser and picks some R&B to feature. Gotta get these “old man” juices flowing. His kites are sure pretty in the clear, sunny ocean air… and his flight is his usual lovely creation…

Connor Doran is also out there fairly early. Bob Wendt does his usual fine job – neither under- nor over-playing Connor’s recent outing on America’s Got Talent. Connor seems to like mid 50s and 60s jazz and show tunes, and Frank Sinatra figures heavily into his repertoir. Connor does a nice job interpreting the music with his Revolution.

Ben D’Antonio has found someone down by the D-River to teach Revs to, so he’s occupied for the next 20-30 minutes…

Paul de Bakker is out flying to some tune he’s found where there’s frenetic musical activity followed by dreamy, serene stuff… My memory says the title is “It’s So Easy” but that’s probably not the actual title. In any case, Paul flies his normal (in other words, World Class) dual-line routines…

iQuad finally shows up (they’ve really been there all along, they were just lower on the demo list is all), and “WOWs” everyone within hearing/sight with their opening “Indiana Jones” routine… They ARE incredible to watch if you’ve not seen them – or even the first 100 times or so that you HAVE seen them…

Following that, the iQuad team members do a few individual Rev demos – including a slightly AMAZING outing by Steve de Rooy! Steve is one of those few, select Rev fliers who can actually fly a Revolution kite single-handedly. Actually, he can do that with either hand, too – and the amazing part is – he can also fly TWO Revs simultaneously… and interpret music… and make it look easy! So Steve puts on a “show” for the folks – flying two Revolution kites at once in a choreographed-to-music routine. He actually makes it all look easy! If he were competing, he’d get very high marks for how tight and smooth and flowing his routine is – for two individuals flying single Revs as a “pair,” that is… God only knows how he’d score with his routine “as flown.” Still, Steve’s not interested in Competition…

And me? Oh, I’m “out and about” with my camera, snapping shots, yakkin’ with fliers, schmoozing with the audience – and watching the Big Kite guys wrestle with clouds of inflatable nylon, actually. And I glance over and notice Gary dragging a stack of kites down there on the beach, so I head on over there.

Yes, Gary MacEachern is busy “setting up.” Setting up? Well, three stacks of 16 kites each aren’t exactly all that quick to set up, or all that “normal” either, regardless of the individual. So somebody else jumps in and takes the demo slot – maybe Dave Bradley or Paul de Bakker or Lam Hoac goes in and fills the time with a decent, audience-entertaining routine…

Then it’s back to Gary again. So eventually Gary and kites and music are all ready for his demo, and Bob Wendt starts ’em out with an unusual announcement… Gary will attempt to set a new World Record for flying three stacks of 16 kites per stack – all at the same time. So Gary launches the kites, Bob rolls the music, and – we’re underway…

Gary’s kites are airborne for a minute or so when one of the stacks starts to wobble in the air. Gary tries to correct the flutter, but that stack begins to wrap around itself – then contacts – and wraps around one of the other two stacks… and the whole shebang finally augers into the sand. Big “OOoops.” While Jeremy Colbert, the field director, and I try to untangle the stacks, it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. Gary comes down the line and the three of us carry the whole “Gordian Knot” of kites off the field. End of “try #1!” All is NOT lost, and Gary will be back for a retry again – Soon!

More demos ensue… The focus of the audience shifts, and we work to untangle all those kites. Then I’m back, watching and shooting a little before I go have some lunch. The folks in the food tent are giving all profits to kids fro low income families in the community to purchase backpacks filled with school supplies. It seems like a decent place to spend my lunch money, and I certainly approve of any profits going to help school kids in the local community, too.

Afternoon brings us more of the same on the demo field. And over just south of the demo field on the “Big Kite” field, it’s “Octopus Time,” I guess. There’re already a few of them flying, and three or four of these big babies are certain to impress the crowd… and they look to be setting up for even MORE Octos, too. WOW!! They are impressive enough kites as singles or pairs, but several of those huge inflatables are really impressive! We’ll have to keep watch on this “Octopus Garden” throughout the day and see what the count finally reaches. Thanks for working up an excellent display, folks!

The afternoon session also found time for the “Running of The Bols,” a racing competition between groups of kids from the crowd, who tow a four-foot or five foot “Bol” down the field to a “finish line” – all as orchestrated and announced by Dave Gomberg. Dave even contributes the use of his Bols, too! And apparently, Dave enjoyed himself so much behind the microphone that he just kept right on announcing well past the end of the Bol-running. Good show, David!!!

So Dave is orchestrating some more Demos, and I’ve completely lost track of who’s flying next,and who’s to follow, but no matter. Demos are ongoing – forever!

Meanwhile Gary MacEachern has his “black stacks” all untangled, and it’s time for another attempt again. This time, I happen to be right down by the demo field when it occurs, so I help stretch the stacks out, while Gary readies himself on the “control” end of the lines. And an affair as complex as flying three stacks of 16 kites per stack is no “simple” affair to set up, either. But we get them all readied, and Gary has the field, so he pulls back and starts the two stacks he’s controlling with his hands… then he takes another step back and gets the third “waist” stack airborne. The sound booth starts Gary’s music, by which Gary measures his flights duration. If he flies until the music ends, he’s flown enough time to qualify for a World’s Record attempt. All seems to be going well for the first minute or two, but that wobble-flutter in the stacks still seems to be present occasionally, so it is a concern. Gary successfully recovers from a wobble bout a time or two, but one of his hand-stacks (as opposed to his “waist” stack) wobbles again, then twists into an unrecoverable mess… Gary lands the other two stacks successfully, but it is soon apparent that this chaos will require undoing the link-lines between some of the kites to disburse that chaos – meaning this attempt at least, is over. Well – there’s always another shot available later, and we shall see what happens then.

Dave Gomberg and/or Bob Wendt keep on rolling through the endless demo list. Throw in iQuad again? Certainly! They’re always a crowd pleaser, and if handled right, they’re good for at least a half hour. So iQuad takes their Demo, and then begins to disassemble into smaller groups and individuals, so we get to see the Barry Poulter demo, and the J.D. Fabich Demo and the David Hathaway demo, etcetera…

We should also remind you that iQuad is NOT the only Quad Team on the beach this weekend. Island Quad is a Team that started up as just a bunch of guys who liked to fly together, and then started practicing some “team maneuvers” as a way to expand their skills and experience. But Island Quad has gestated into something much more, now. Oh, they haven’t the skill-level experience of iQuad – who has been “Invited Fliers” on four continents now – but Island Quad is a darned good Quad Team in their own right now, and they’re certainly worth watching… Island Quad is: Terry Wiggill, Mario DiLucca, Willow Robin, and Brad Bixby, and they’re a whole lot of fun to watch, and they’re well skilled and innovative pilots. So Island Quad also demos – both together and as individuals, and there’s at least one “pairs” in there too, with Terry and Mario flying together.

And, then there’s the lady quickly becoming known as “Connor’s Mom” – much to the delight of both Amy and Connor. With Connor’s recent experience on “America’s Got Talent,” there’s been some UNjust criticism of Amy that SHE’s been the one “pushing” Connor into all of this. I say “unjust” because I know for a fact that, in truth, it’s just exactly the other way around. Amy’s been the one asking, “Are you SURE?” of Connor every step of the way, and Connor then has to convince Amy that, “Yes,” he really wants to do this.

Well, on a whole other slant (NOT as “Connor’s Mom”), Amy is a most creditable flier in her own right, and a real innovator in her flying, her routines, and what she offers on the flying field. She’s a multiple winner of the AKA Grand National Competitions in the “Individual Outdoor Innovative Unlimited” class – and Amy does “characters.” So far, we’ve seen Amy as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Poppins, and some Disney character called “Wall-E” which no grown-ups, but ALL kids, seem to know. And so, Amy puts on a fine, very entertaining show for the audience.

Connor, of course, is by now one of the better indoor Rev pilots out there – good enough so that in a competition, where he ranks will simply come down to his music interpretation and flying-style. Connor’s flying skills per se are certainly not in question at all by now. And all this experience translates into grace, interpretation of music, and the same skill set he uses indoors when he gets outdoors on the flying field. Entertaining? Absolutely! And if he’s not already there, he’s soon to be accounted one of the best Revolution pilots on the face of the planet.

And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Penny Lingenfelter. Penny’s a long-time competitor who’s taken her love of flying and her quad-line skills and turned them toward “Kid Productions” on the flying field. Penny creates “routines” based on Dr. Seuss… Then she puts together musical programs on CDs to fly to, choreographs the story with flying maneuvers, and leaves lots of time in her stories for “kids” to participate in the routine right along with her – out on the field. Then she recruits a bunch of kids from festival crowds, digs into her trunks for costumes and easy-to-fly kites for them, and takes this whole assemblage out onto the field and FLIES! And they all fly together… Penny and her “kids.” It’s all glorious FUN!

These are the kinds of demos we keep rolling through – all day long! Whoever’s next on the list just gets up and flies for the crowd, and the variety of pilots, music, routines, and various kites streaming by is mesmerizing, even mind-boggling at times.

And by the end of the day’s activities, the big kite guys, “Team Suspended Animation,” has put together a stacked flight of a full dozen Octopus Kites, along with various other bits and drabs of “color” in the sky. The look is AWESOME, folks! What a pleasant, well-designed display.

And so the festival rumbled on… flier after flier, demo after demo, and the ever-mobile crowd is flowing all over the beach, flying kites, taking photos, eating Hot Dogs out of the Food Tent, and taking it all in… I have no idea what the estimated “count” amounts to, but it was an altogether fine day, and there certainly were plenty of people on the beach that Saturday…

But, like everything, eventually it all had to end. So by 4:00 PM, the “Scheduled” activities were winding down. After all, if it takes a few hours to construct things like stacks of Octopus kites, it takes some time to pull them all down, clean them up, and pack them away, too. Demo fliers were busy putting kites away, tearing down their “camps,” making runs to stow all the kites and associated “gear” away in car-trunks, and cleaning up their areas… After all, we had a Pot-Luck to attend with the pilots and the otehr festival workers.

One of the fun byproducts of any kite festival is a chance for those who work the festival to get together OFF the beach and have a libation or two and to share a meal in a social setting. So this weekend’s Saturday event ended up south in Glen Eden at a condo complex in their “clubhouse.” It was a grand time, with make-it-yourself Tacos provided by Lincoln City and appetizers, salads, and desserts all pot-lucked. And afterwards, Dave Gomberg made a little presentation to Connor of a nice model of a kite pilot flying a Revolution kite that Dave had on his desk for years – along with some appropriate words of course. Dave certainly made mention that Connor, through his efforts on America’s Got Talent, had managed to do something that nobody else had managed to do in years and years – namely “Excite the American Public about the delights of flying a kite!” Yeay, Connor!!!

Afterwards, I headed back to the Inn At Wecoma for a chance to put my feet up and then get some sleep in preparation for a new day tomorrow. We still had another day of the 2010 Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival to attend on Sunday.

Sunday morning broke with signs of tolerable weather ahead, a high overcast which would soon burn off, light and variable breezes which would steady up and strengthen, and NO possibility of any rain in sight. That might not seem like much of a “big deal” to you now, but back in mid-July, we were still a bit gun-shy when it came to weather. May and June had been the wettest instances of those two months on record – ever – and it wasn’t until the 4th of July weekend before the weather began to stabilize into what we expect for “summer” in the Northwest. And this festival, being held at the end of June, had us watching for rain over our shoulders.

So, I check out of the Inn At Wecoma and head for the D-River Wayside again, park the car and walk up the hill to find breakfast once more, and fuel up with my Standard Road Breakfast and an ample supply of strong coffee! Then, ready for the day, I head for the D-River Wayside once more.

Bob Wendt has the sound system humming… The field is already set. The fliers are pouring in, setting camps, and assembling kites, and a few even have a couple of their kites airborne. Team Suspended Animation people are backing trailers in and hauling mounds of kites and associated gear down to the beach. The Food Tent is doing a land-office business in coffee. Yup – everything seems normal in the kite festival world. And before you know it, we’re underway again…

With the light and variable winds still existent, iQuad is the logical starting point because they can fly their kites in next-to-nothing for breezes. They put on a fine opening show, and the usual round-robin of demos soon follows. Sign up for a slot and get in line! Get your 5 minutes of fame and entertain the crowd. Enjoy the day at the beach… Life is GOOD!

Along the sea-wall that forms the promenade overlooking the beach, there are two camps that certainly bear mentioning. Rod and Cindy Thrall are long-time festival attendees, and Cindy in particular makes marvelous, innovative banners, while Rod sews and builds wonderful kites. Indeed, this festival, Rod has brought a smallish flow-form kite that Dale Ray has ordered as a “pilot” kite for his inflatable “Dragon.” The flow-form has an appliqued design on it showing the silhouette of the Dragon superimposed on a full Moon – all on a field of black nylon… The kite is stunning in its design and adds much to the impact of the Dragon kite – both for its own portrayal of Dale’s Dragon on its face, and also for the fact that the kite’s function as a “pilot” kite works magnificently well. It is always our delight to run into Rod and Cindy at a festival. They’re nice folks, with lots of history in kiting and stories to share.

Meanwhile, over on the big kite field, with the marginal winds easing through at the moment – it’s a “Sutton” kinda day. So there are 3-4 of these big kites up, streamer-tails fluttering along behind, painting the sky – mostly with red/white/blue colors. But if you walk over near the pilots, there’s a slight undercurrent grumbling, and you can hear “…waiting for wind…” muttered under their breaths. Easy, guys! It’ll be here by and by… and by about noon, it IS there too!

So folks like Paul de Bakker, and Al Washington, and Spence Watson, and Lam Hoac, and Connor and Amy Doran, and the guys from both the quad-line teams are cycling through the Demo field again. Everyone is putting on a good show, and also having a good bit of fun flying, too.

And about 11:00 AM, Gary MacEachern’s name comes up and he begins to set up. I missed all the “prep” activity this time – being up on the promenade at the moment – but I saw him launch the first stack out of the corner of my eye, so I beat it down to the path between the Demo Field and the Big Kite field. And as Gary launched the last stack, I also glanced at my wrist-watch too. Might as well get the time-duration on this flight, since it’s maybe the last flight he could fly this weekend.

FLY he did too! He kept ’em all aloft. He made full circles with each stack, then reversed them and flew the “twist” back out of his lines. His music started – and ended – with his kites all still aloft! And to end the whole affair, he downed each stack successfully and without any problems… I checked my watch, did a little math, and came up with AT LEAST six minutes and eighteen seconds. Okay, call it “six and fifteen,” just to be conservative about it.

So I hopped the tape lining the field and went out to congratulate the man. Here comes Gary, sweat pouring off him, all slathered up in sun-screen (Gary is VERY light-complected), and huffing and puffing like a pig! I give him a big hand-shake, and he turns to face me and says, “Ya-know, my WIFE will be very happy about this!” (Huh? His WIFE?) My reaction must have told him my amazement about this comment because Gary volunteered without my even asking, “It takes some time to build, stack, and tune three stacks of sixteen kites each… Nancie’ll be happy to have her husband back now!” I just laughed out loud!

By then, Bob Wendt is announcing Gary’s World Record achievement over the PA system and a big round of gracious applause rolls out towards us as we stand there on the field. Gary raises his hand overhead and waves at the crowd. I start to pick up kites…

Subsequently, I have heard that the American Kitefliers Association (AKA), the “governing body” for kite flying in America, has accepted and “Okayed” Gary’s accomplishments, and The Guinness Book of Records is “still considering” Gary’s achievement. Hopefully, somebody shot some video of the whole thing, just so Guinness can verify it for themselves. Yes – he certainly deserves the Record! Ray Bethell had set the prior record at Long Beach, WA during some WSIKF flying 33 Prism kites in three stacks back roughly around the turn of the century – though I do NOT remember the exact date.

Perhaps it’s unfortunate, I don’t know… Sundays at kite festivals don’t seem to have as many attendees as Saturdays. Church-going certainly has something to do with that I suspect, and since festivals are generally held in resort areas, I suppose a percentage of the folks have may cut out – making an early run towards home in order to be ready for the work-week Monday morning. In any case, Gary’s last record attempt wasn’t observed by as many people as watched his tow earlier failures on Saturday.

Still, the festival rolled on anyway… More stuff to see, demos to watch, and perhaps time for another Hot Dog from the “Backpacks for Kids” folks in the Food Tent. Maybe another swig of coffee too!

After a while I wandered back down to the Big Kite field again. Yes, they have wind, but not the kind of wind they’d seen the day before. Rather than the dozen Octopuses they’d flown yesterday, the field is now graced with four enormous inflatable Teddy-Bears instead (One of which I think might have been Rod Thrall’s bear). Anyway, it was still a marvelous, even a glorious, show. Those big kites add SO much to the crowd’s enjoyment of kite festivals. Thank you “Suspended Animation.” We REALLY appreciate what you bring to any kite festival!

And then I began to notice that there were a bit fewer fliers present than I’d seen before, and the crowd was starting to dissipate a bit too. So kite festivals are like that… They don’t usually “end” abruptly… Instead, folks begin leaving in ones, two, and car-loads, and the once-fun festival sort of bogs down and finally dies – more through lack of inertia than anything else… No. Nobody cries “HALT!” Kite festivals just sort of end by their own accord. All of a sudden the PA system ceases functioning. Tents get emptied and pulled down and packed away. A few die-hard fliers out at the water’s edge are still out there – playing with the wind. But Team Suspended Animation is quite organized in the tear-down process. Kites are hauled down – one by one – and UN-inflated and stuffed back into bags. Fly lines are gathered up and stored in trailers along with the kites. Anchor points are dug out of the sand. And after an hour or so, the beach looks just like it did before the festival started… except maybe a little cleaner.

Sure, there’s a bit of sadness when this kind of event ends, and that’s appropriate too. We’ve all had fun too – or we wouldn’t be doing it! Still, we’ll see you all at the next one, “X” weeks from now… Lookin’ forward to it, too!

The delightful Maggie Conrad and her Lincoln City crew have done marvelous work one more time – so we make sure she gets our “Thanks” for all their wonderful efforts before we leave… But before long Theresa and I are on our way through Lincoln City and on the road for Vancouver, WA and our home, again. It’s been “A Festival” for sure, but the real truth is, we’re just a bit weary… And in another couple of hours, we pulled into our driveway again. Yup – “Ollie, Ollie, In-Free” one more time!

But that’s okay. There’ll soon be another festival soon, and we’ll certainly be there. Maybe you will too! See ya there?

Fair Winds and Good Friends –


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Author:Dave Shattuck

As one of our regular and most prolific contributors, Dave "Geezer" Shattuck is a driving force here at Kitelife and a regular at many NW events as well as other locations throughout the year.

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