Issue 43: Berck sur Mer Intl Kite Festival

Wow!! What have I done to deserve 5 full sponsored weeks in France and Italy? The 19th International Meeting of Kites in Berck Sur Mer and then to the 25th Cervia International Kite festival in Italy, both premier international kite festivals that are held in Europe, and I have been lucky to have been fully sponsored and invited to both of these world class kite festivals for the past 8 years. Both these festivals are back to back, with just a few days in-between.

Both organizers, Gerard Clement and Claudio Capelli, work together to sponsor me to both of their kite festivals, so that I do not have to travel all the way home to Canada and then return back to Europe a few days later. This way also is good for the sponsors and for myself as the whole trip can be done on the one flight ticket, which is a big savings all around. It also gives me time to relax a little before performing at the second international kite festival.

It is always a great pleasure for me to perform at Berck’s unique festival. Flyers are invited from all over the world and Europe. The beach is huge, flat, and hard packed sand. I am sure you could hold all the kite festivals in Europe on this beach at the same time and still have plenty of beach left over.

This year it was just the kite festival, as the World Sport kite Championships is being held at Lincoln City this year. I had to smile to my self a little, reading the great coverage that the editor of Kitelife John Barresi did each and every day of the competitions when he wrote that there were between 800 – 1,000 spectators on the final day of the competitions, because in Berck they have as many as 50,000 spectators which will more than double on the week ends of the festival. As I said so many times before, the people of Europe really support their kite festivals. They are also very family oriented.

Berck this year was not like other years due to the weather. The first weekend of the festival was not too bad, but very cold – chilling to the very bone. But the sky was full of kites of every descriptions even though the winds were very strong. You could see the kite banners bending in half by the force of the wind, but by standing out of the wind the sun was very warm. But alas, cold rain set in on the Monday and was on and off until Friday evening. Then on Saturday morning the sun came out and the sky was once again full to chocker block with every possible design of kites, an awesome sight. The demonstration arena was in full swing and a lot of the European Sport kite Teams that would be competing in Lincoln City in June were demonstrating their skills and entertaining the tens of thousands of spectators that return year after year to fully support their kite festival.

I have been invited to Berck for many years and it is great to have spectators coming over to me on and off the beach, thanking me for once again returning to Berck. It is also a wonderful feeling to have people in cars honking their horns and waving as I make my way back to the hotel each evening. The people are wonderful and very appreciative.

Berck is a typical sea side town and reminds me very much like the sea side towns in England – very narrow streets and side walks with quaint old shops. While strolling the streets in late evening, I let my mind wonder how it must have been and what it looked like in the late 1700s and early 1800s (Yes, believe it or not Dave Gomberg, it was a little before I was born). I love to stop and ponder as I turn a corner on a very narrow side walk that is tight up against the wall of a very old house, and as I touched the wall I wonder how many people in the past have touched this same wall when turning this corner because part of the wall has been made very smooth by countless hands that has used it to steady themselves.

In spite of the weather, spectators and kite flyers alike had a chance to wander through the huge Tent displays that lined all along the promenade. I really enjoyed one in particular, and spent a lot of time with and talking to Chistian Kolz from Germany the owner of some beautiful historical kites and builder of some of the reproduction kites of the past,. He travels to kite festival all over Europe displaying his wonderful collection. What really intrigued me was the old Garber Target Kites that they used for gun practice,. These actually were, you might say, the first Stunt kite now known as a sport kite.

Also very intriguing was the Gibson girl Air and Rescue kite and Balloon kite, dated 1942, that can be all packed up in its original yellow back pack still in mint condition just as if it was made yesterday. The owner of this unique and priceless collector’s item was a Guy from Italy. Sorry, I forgot his name, but I met him again a couple of weeks later in Cervia Italy. He had a great aerial photography display in Berck of hundreds of photographs. He takes awesome pictures with his aerial camera device that he has made himself. This is one thing I love about European Kite Festivals. You will meet and enjoy great talented people from all over the world so willing to share their knowledge in every aspects in kiting to all that are interested. And those rainy days are a perfect time to pick up knowledge and learn from the masters.

This unique and great International kite festival was once again a huge success and I was very proud once again to be part of it. And if I may, I would like to say on behalf of all the kite flyers – I would like to thank Didier Delefosse, the Director: Gerard Clement, the Managing organizer: and all the wonderful volunteers who themselves are always so proud to play a small part at this event. And the wonderful staff at the Office de Tourisme who bends over backwards to help all of us in any way they can, and I would like to personally thank they young lady at the Office de Tourisme who helped me to send e-mail messages to my family.

Thank you for listening.