Issue 36: 3rd Annual Moses Lake Kite Festival


Hey – we’re headed out on the open road again… Yeah, we’re packing up and on our way – this time to rediscover the delights of small towns, by attending the THIRD Annual Moses Lake Kite Festival! There’s something quite refreshing about small-town America too. Yeah – Moses Lake has about 16,000 residents, give or take…

Now Bill Walton’s an old kiteflier from way back, and he thinks there’s something pure and wholesome about putting a kite into the wind. Well – I sure can’t fault him on that score, either. So Bill’s talked his fellow Moses Lake business associates into sponsoring this thing, and as a couple of old-dawg kiters ourselves, Charly and I should probably support those “pure and wholesome” ideals. So, we’re head out to the wilds of central Washington to participate in “a little one.” Yep – over the Cascades, across the mighty Columbia River, and another 50-60 miles through big Ag farms. Headin’ out, and “on the road again.” Now, where’s that old Willie Nelson CD?

Well, we made it. Not too much traffic, bright sunny Friday afternoon, there seems to be some wind out there too – and somewhere along the way, we left our cares and woes behind in the big city of Seattle.

Our first stop is Moses Lake Floral – Bill and Sally Walton’s business. We want to check in with them, mostly just to say “HI,” but we also get the latest information about the festival. Then we’re off to the Maples Motel where the nice folks book us into the same room we’d stayed in last year, almost like we’re going “home” again. We settle in, find a good place to get some dinner, and we get a good night’s sleep so we can FLY tomorrow morning…

Saturday morning breaks bright and clear, just like it should in this little community. A tad chilly, but that’ll go pretty quickly, and a few whiffs of breeze ease our minds a bit too – we’ll have some wind!” We make sure we “layer up” so we can layer down later, and don’t forget out sun-glasses and a healthy dollop of sunscreen either.

Anyway, our first order of business is a hearty breakfast at Ann’s Diner. Bill’s rigged a deal with the owners so that kitefliers can get breakfast at two-for-one rates. These folks sure treat kitefilers right. We chow down real hearty and head for the kite-field at the other end of town, 7-8 minutes away. The Pilot’s Meeting has no real surprises, with the usual “Fly SAFE!” admonition heard loud and clear by all attending.

People trickle in and set up – drive right onto the field, everyone unloads, sets up their onsite “living” spaces, and pulls out a light-air kite to start the day. And, while everyone’s arriving and setting up – I’m standing there flabbergasted! MY GOSH!!! There’re loads more people than we had last year… Sure, the field’s huge, but will we have room for everyone? And look at THAT! There’re even folks here all the way from OREGON who’ve come to this festival… WOW!!! Here Charly and I just sorta made a casual decision to attend, but apparently a whole bunch of others decided that the fly was really a good “destination spot” for them. And since they’d decided that way, that’s exactly the way the whole festival turned out!

I think Dick Curran was the first to get a kite into the air, but it wasn’t much more time before there were a dozen or so light-wind kites floating in the azure sky. And it wasn’t long afterward that Carl and Lisa Bragiel took over the “demo” field at the end of the High School practice-field to fly light-wind stunters. Sure enough, more and more kites were popping out all over. Oh, that might be due to the freshening wind, which had climbed steadily from about 3-4 right after the Pilot’s meeting at 9:30 AM to roughly 6-8 MPH now. It would eventually peak in the mid-teens later on in the afternoon. But for right now, I was just pleased that it looked like there was a Kite Festival going on there!

Yup – I guess we were underway, weren’t we? The DJ on the sound system was cranking up the tunes. The vendors were getting busy, with the Kettle Corn man dispensing “sweets,” plus all-you-could-drink coffee for $.75 for the entire DAY, and the Four-H folks had a booth where they were selling plant-starts… The registration table was busy collecting bios from folks who’d not been there before, and various other people were busy providing their own form of entertainment – flying KITES!!!

The folks up from Oregon had a couple of excellent kitemakers with them – and while I certainly delighted in the gorgeous kites they were flying, I wouldn’t get around to really talking with them until that evening. Oh, sure – I’d “made the rounds.” I chatted with various people here and there, went out on the field and admired the kites. Shot a few photos, too! There were at least half a dozen club logos that I saw on banners, and probably at least that many more clubs were represented that I didn’t know about.

Well, if you had lovely flying weather like we did, you’d already un-layered down to your shirtsleeves by about now. I’d finished that After-The-Pilot’s-Meeting coffee, wandered all over the field, yakked with everyone at least once, and maybe I hadn’t done a thing worth noting, but I was still a little bushed.

Well, Bless you Bill Walton! About the time I figured it was time for a short break in my beach-chair, Bill got on the sound system and hollered: “Anyone want a Hamburger? Lunch is here… COME AND GET IT!!!” Boy – and I hadn’t even realized I was getting hungry yet, but apparently Ann’s Diner and Bill Walton had anticipated my needs, so I chowed on down. The timing couldn’t be better either, and I got a short nap right there in the afternoon sun immediately after lunch! Ah… It sure was nice to feel WARMTH again after a drizzly Seattle winter!!!

After my post-burger siesta (Darned good burger, too!), I realized I’d been on the field for several hours and I still hadn’t flown a kite yet. Time to rectify that, I guess – so I went and pulled out my old Prism Eclipse and had about an hour all to myself – communing with Mariah (the wind), who’s one of my favorite ladies! Gosh – flying in rock-steady wind, on a grass field, with plenty of room to roam – sure is nice! It’s a pleasure to raise a little sweat every now and then too! And, Mariah seemed to enjoy it. She got to rippin’ pretty good – up into the teens for wind-speed, so we had a grand time renewing our aerial love affair.

Then it was time to get a little serious about taking some photos for Kitelife, so I grabbed the camera and went after a few shots of Carl Bragiel. I don’t know if you know about Carl, but he’s one of those rare individuals who has a talent for multi-kite flying. He flies one dual-liner from a strap around his chest, and two others with special dual-line handles – one in each hand. Yup, similar to what Ray Bethell does… Carl flew three kites around all weekend, seemingly non-stop. Okay – he set ’em down a few times, and even had a couple “unplanned landings!” Not very darned many, though – and when that happened, his partner Lisa did all the recovery work while Carl kept right on flying the others two kites… That’s pretty amazing stuff for this “little one” festival, right? Yeah – and just delightful to watch fly too, and that’s more to the point!

Well, from there I wandered around and shot photos of a few more kites… While I was doing so, an old friend pulled up – Lexi Morad. Lexi’s a nice gal in her mid-twenties, and she’s wheel-chair bound due to an accident about 10 years ago. Charly managed to wrangle a kite for Lexi over the winter – a Revolution 1.5 with lines and handles, so Charly got her set up for a REV lesson with Penny Lingenfelter, who’s a darned good REV pilot and who really enjoys teaching others. I didn’t get much of a chance to talk with her since she spent a fair amount of time with Penny, but it was sure nice to see Lexi back on the flying field.

I also had a nice chat with Dick Curran – he of the multi-colored outfits – about the kites he and Georgeanne build. While Dick would probably poo-poo my saying it, I think they’re pretty fine kitemakers – Master’s class competitors at any rate – so it’s always a joy to talk with Dick about kites. We got into a discussion on the bridling and bowing techniques used on some of his “noodle” Single Line Kites (SLKs) as I recall. Dick was busy flying his “Lace” and “Chili Pepper” noodles at the time though, so we spent a fair amount of time tending lines and walking back and forth across the field too.

Soon it was time to call it a day. The sun, while not down yet, was certainly sliding in that direction. The breeze was beginning to die a bit, so it was either re-tune your kites for lighter wind conditions or just bring ’em in. After the second or third attempt at adjusting though, most folks just gave up and decided to head for the motel room, grab a shower, and get ready for our dinner tonight at the Barbeque Depot. Well, Charly and I could see the trend developing, so we beat feet for the Maples Motel, grabbed a shower, and I even succumbed to another short nap. Must be all that fresh desert air, eh?

Okay – I don’t know if you’re into Barbeque or not. But if you are, the Barbeque Depot is your place in Moses Lake. These folks sure know how to load up a plate and fill your belly with “good home cookin’!” Combined with a nice camaraderie that carried over from the kite-field to the table, everyone had a grand time. I was fortunate enough to sit next an especially nice lady named Miriam Schafler who’d come up from Oregon for this fly. Mirium is one of the people who delights in designing and building her own kites, and I’d taken a photo or two of her work earlier in the day. We had a marvelous time discussing all manner of kite-related subjects, and I left with a full belly, a pleasantly stimulated mind, and a new friend. Yep – this “little one” festival was getting better and better all the time.

I slept like a rock again that night. Yeah – again! Then it was up, grab a shower, say “So Long” to the folks at the Maples Motel, and head off to Ann’s Diner for another fine breakfast. Charly and I were joined for breakfast by Carl and Lisa Bragiel, whom I’d not met even though I’d spent some time shooting his flying with my camera. What a delightful pair they are! Down to earth, a fine sense of humor, and altogether delightful people. When we were nearly done, Bill and Sally Walton came in with big grins on their faces. Ann’s Diner was so full of kite-folks that it was hard for them to find a seat, so we had another cup of coffee while “the organizers” ate breakfast. No sense hurrying to get to the kite-field when the man with the keys is still eating!

Once at the field everyone fell to the set-up chores with dispatch, while Bill used the sound system to give us the “Fly SAFE,” and “Help others” speeches. It must be a new record of some sort, because the field went from absolutely empty to completely full and set up in about 15 minutes. Why? Well – two words: “Good Wind!”

All right – I grabbed the camera again and set off in search of something new to photograph, and found it, too. Sam Houston was busy setting up a large rainbow sled-foil kite with a whole bunch of rainbow line-laundry spin-socks. When I started to walk away Sam hollered, “Hang around… You’ll get a kick out of this!” I did, too – since at the end of Sam’s “Rainbow,” he hung a final windsock that looked just like the proverbial “Pot of Gold!”

And, I managed to catch Jeff Reed flying his old Illusion with a hundred-foot tail attached. Pretty kite, and just lovely in the sky too, but he brought it down a bit too soon for my tastes. Seems like Jeff was off to the “Indoor Fly” being held in the High School’s gym… Well, I decided to tag along and watch all the fun.

Indoor flying is getting to be more and more common at festivals these days. For one thing, the folks who fly indoors seem to favor it above all other types of flying. For another reason – you can fly indoors at midnight and even when there’s a hailstorm raging outside! Finally, the public can hardly believe their ears when they hear that folks are actually flying kites inside – without any wind. Well, Jeff Reed, Penny Lingenfelter, and John Matteson all make indoor flying look effortless – and have a lot of fun doing it. I was enjoying both the flying and the public’s reaction to it, when I realized I had my camera with me. I tried to get some good shots, but an open door threw enough glare into the room to make at least half my photos unacceptable, and the dim light made the other half merely “marginal.” If you’re interested in the fun of indoor flight, you can find a couple of shots in the gallery – but I’d really recommend you get yourself to a demo instead. My photos don’t do justice to all this fun!

Back out on the field again, I ran into my friend from the previous evening – Miriam Schafler. Miriam and her pal, Ellen Pardee were busy flying the new creations they’d built over the winter. Among other things, Miriam had built a line-traveler to carry a Teddy-Bear part way up a kite-line, then release the bear in a parachute for Teddy-Bear drops. The two ladies were busy test-flying this apparatus to work out the “kinks.” Soon, however, Ellen brought out a marvelous creation she’s named “Seven Sisters.” This kite is a very large appliqué work, and is absolutely gorgeous. Moreover, it flies extremely well. All right I took a few photos there, too…

But I was really itching to fly my own kites, to tell the truth – so I put the camera away and got out the Prism Total Eclipse instead. Yeah, I’m kind of partial to those old big Eclipses, and we had some of that “perfect wind” that’s a tough commodity to find sometimes. So a-flying we did go – myself, Mariah, and the old Total Eclipse. I’d been out there for about 15-20 minutes enjoying myself (and Mariah and the kite) tremendously, when Al Hernandez walked up and just watched us play. Now Al’s nearly my age, and I’d seen him fly a dual-line kite earlier in the weekend – so I just said “Here…” and handed him the lines unasked. Al flew the Total for 5-10 minutes before handing the lines back to me, saying “Thanks… That thing sure is smooth!” So I told him he now knew why the old Total Eclipses were still in high demand today. All of a sudden, Al got this funny look on his face, and he asked, “Is THAT what that is?” It turns out it was the first Total Eclipse Al had ever seen, let alone flown. Yeah, Al! Glad you enjoyed yourself! Sure, you can fly it again sometime. My pleasure, Sir!

After I put the Total Eclipse away, I ran into Ken and Becky Cage. These two extremely nice people run Colors In The Wind in Spokane. It’s the closest kite shop to Moses Lake, and they’d driven the hundred miles just to share the day – and some of their new “toys” with us. They brought several friends from the Lilac City Windriders kite club too, and between them they they brought out about half a dozen delightful new kites and kite-products…including one of those beautiful new latticed deltas from Premier. Gosh, they’re pretty!

Well, I watched Ken and Becky and their friend fly for a while and finally decided maybe I was due another break and perhaps a cup of coffee. I was heading for my chair and a chance to rest my legs, when Bill Walton broke in on the P.A. system, saying, “If anyone would like to meet Susan Hagaman, she’s up here by the registration table!” Well, for a few seconds… It didn’t register with me.

Wha??? “Hagaman?” – as in: related to DOUG HAGAMAN??? Well, shucks, sir – I’m on my way! Sure enough, this was Doug Hagaman’s sister.

I’d met Doug about a dozen years before, and hadn’t the faintest idea who he was at the time. So Susan and I stood and chatted for about 10 minutes, sharing our different remembrances of Doug – when all of a sudden, she announced “I’m going home and get one of Doug’s old kites and I’m going to bring it back and fly it!

Sure enough – twenty minutes later, here comes Susan and husband Ken, and a very old Hagaman Parafoil that hadn’t seen sunlight, let alone air-time, in at least 10 years because it’d been in storage all that time. Susan and Ken sat down on the ground and untangled the bridle, and five minutes later – there goes a genuine Hagaman Parafoil into the air for the first time in at least a decade! WOW!!! The photos below and over on the side show about all there is to see of the event, but I feel quite lucky to have been there when it occurred. What a delightful treat! Yes, they stayed around and flew the Hagaman Parafoil for about 10-15 more minutes!

Yeah – sometimes these “little ones” can get to be pretty darned big! Small-town festival indeed!

Finally, when Susan and Ken left, I looked around the field and discovered – much to my dismay – that it was nearly empty! Yep, it was close to 5:30, and folks had been pulling out for quite a while – and I hadn’t even really noticed. The Oregon contingent was already on the road. Same for the Westport Windrider bunch – though I had caught Eli Williams and his nice lady on their way out, said goodbye, and wished them a safe trip home… Sam and Anne Houston were already long gone. The Currans were busy packing up. Al and Dawn Hernandez were nearly ready to go. It seemed like Charly and I – and the Waltons – were the only ones left!

Well, Charly and I dawdled a little… Sometimes, I’m just not ready for a fine, FINE festival like this one to end! Okay – We spent a little time packing up, but we also spent a little while with Bill and Sally Walton, too. There comes a time though, when all the handshakes and hugs and well-meant words just sort of dribble off into nothing. When it happens, all you can gracefully do is climb in the van, wave as you leave, and point it down the road…
across the Columbia…
over the Cascade Mountains…
and back to big-town Seattle – and Home again!

So – Did Charly and I have fun? Yeah, we certainly did! Did we meet anyone worthwhile? Yup, we got to know some fantastic folks! So – you coming back again next year? Yes, Bill and Sally – we’ll be there with bells on! I don’t think you could drive us away with an army!

After all – it’s kiting in small-town America, isn’t it? Yeah – There may be other events that are it’s equal in some ways – but it certainly doesn’t GET any BETTER than this!!!