Issue 60: Cloudbusters Kite Festival

As I sat down to begin this article I am watching the weather reports.  A tornado touched down south-west of Perrin, TX and the storm continues in the direction of the site where we just had a wonderful kite festival.  But this is Texas!  One minute it can be the most beautiful spring day and the next moment you’re running for cover.  Fortunately for all of us this festival was blessed with gorgeous weather all weekend.

The trip was about an hour and a half from our house to Mitchell RV Park & Resort.  We turned onto the last leg of the trip and I think we were about a mile away from the Park when I jokingly said to Donna, “I don’t see any kites!”  As we rounded the bend there were two large foils high enough to be seen for a mile.  YEAH BUDDY!  We’re going to have a Kite Festival!

This was our first time to the CloudBuster’s Kite Festival and seeing that BIG Red, White and Blue foil with long tails started it off great.  And we weren’t even there yet.  Tony and Ann Killip came all the way from Illinois to fly their big kites.  They did a great job throughout the weekend.  Their remote control candy drop machine worked fantastic.  The kids were in awe watching the shiny wrapped candies fall from high in the sky raining down like glitter.

When we arrived I saw the JOTS (Jewels of the Sky) banner set up at the cottage just in front of us.  George & Mary Weber from JOTS arrived a day earlier to help Kevin and Doris Mitchell (the owners of the park) lay out the field. I think George helping Kevin layout the field helped tremendously with the success.  Having an experienced kite fly help mark off the field provided the best opportunity for all of the kiters.  George and Karen also helped out in many other ways at the festival.  I soon found out why.  They got to use one of the golf carts, a nice little perk.

Shortly after we settled in I took Donna, my wife, up to the General Store and Office.   Kevin and Doris are very pleasant and hospitable folks and I knew Donna would love them.  While we were there, Larry Whitaker and Karen Wilbert, also JOTS members, checked in.  More good friends, this just keeps getting better!

Friday night’s schedule included a 50’s style Hamburger, Fries and Root beer Floats dinner and social.  We met up with Troy Gunn and family at dinner.  Shortly thereafter Elvis entered the building!  Terry Edwards topped off the evening as Elvis.  All of the kids joined in dancing while the older kids sang along.

Saturday:  I have to admit that I was very pleased that I didn’t have to be up at 6 AM to setup the field.  It was a leisurely start to the day.  Sleep in, enjoy the crisp morning air with a cup of hot coffee and contemplate the day’s events.  We went to the field about 9 AM when we started to see some action at the field.  Within half an hour kites were filling the sky.  Tony and Ann put up the foils first thing.  Troy Gunn had his stack of quads laid out and staked down ready for action.  George had finished with the field layout.  Kevin Mitchell had the PA system set up and the show was on.   Family Fun Kites of Granbury, TX was the kite vendor for the festival.  They were getting the kites into the kid’s hands as fast as they could help put them together.  Everyone was helping everyone in one way or another.

Besides Troy Gunn wowing the spectators with his quad line stack and teaming with Jerry Hershey composing part of Team TKO, there were a number of locals that stepped up to the plate.  Kyle Wilson flew his five stack and Henry Kitchens put up his stack of New Jams.  Between the demonstrations there were the contests.  Kevin and Doris manufactured a number of trophies to award to the winners.  We had the youngest and oldest flyers.  Who came from the furthest away and the best ground display and many other catagories.  There was a 50 yard dash with kites for the kids.  All of them with big smiles on their faces and kites in hand.

A few times the wind died off and the sky would empty.  Actually I think Mother Nature was just telling us to take a break.  Which was a good thing since Jan and Jerrell Cook “The Smoken’ Postman” were right there on the edge of the field cooking up goodies all day Saturday and Sunday.  I think my favorite was there ribbon cut fried potatoes.  They were like fresh potato chips but in a huge flower like bouquet.   They also catered the Friday night meet and greet.  As I passed by Jan on Saturday morning I ordered a western omelet with hash browns and toast.  She said “No problem, how good is your imagination.”  Needless to say I settled for a wonderful brisket   sandwich and some of those ribbon cut potatoes.

Even though everything was supposed to wind up at 5 PM, but you only have to walk or drive a short distance to the cottage or your camper, no one seemed in a hurry to call it quits.  The best part of all we didn’t have to break anything down.  We were able to leave the banners and canopies in place.  I didn’t even break down my smaller kites.  I just threw them in the Durango and they were quite happy there until the next morning.

Out here in the country it was so dark that you couldn’t even see the speed bump in the road.  We weren’t looking down anyway; it was a stargazer’s paradise.  Sounds like a county song:

“The stars at night are big and bright
(clap, clap, clap, clap),
Deep in the heart of Texas.”

Sunday:  The morning started out just as gorgeous as Saturday morning.  Dew on the grass, a beautiful sunrise and the wind was picking up.  Today I headed straight out to the big kite field with Tony and Ann and put up my Techmo 19’ delta and the 20’ Raptor with Gomberg’s 55’ yellow snake tube tails.  Those along with Tony’s kites sat high in the sky all day long.  Sunday there wasn’t any schedule.  No contests, no agenda, just free flying fun.  Kids took to the air with all of their colorful kites while the “grown up kids” socialized and tried out each other’s kites.  It was another great day!

As the afternoon approached the winds calmed a bit.  Earlier in the day I had broken the ferrule on my Sea Devil, but with the winds calming down and becoming steadier, I had the perfect opportunity to fly the Mamba UL.  We still had a good crowd and I was slowly moving to an outside corner area.  Did I mention that one of the boundaries was a barbed wire fence?  It was along the far side of the field and hadn’t posed a problem for anyone, but me.

Sometimes you get caught up in watching the kite more than the obstacles and… well it didn’t turn out good.  I clipped the wing tip on the top of the fence and my heart sank along with the kite.  The leading edge broke and the sail got a nasty tear.  OK, so it is time for another kite!

My wife, Donna told me that she wanted to get a foil.  Let me explain why this excited me.  Donna won a Rok at our first kite festival at South Padre Island, TX.  This was her kite.  I assemble it, I launch it, I bring it down and pack it up, but it is HER kite.  She enjoys people and socializing, I fly kites.  No matter how much I have tried to get her to really fly a kite, it just wasn’t happening.  Stephanie Gaines of, and a good friend of ours, asked Donna to hold this large parafoil while she tended to business (real business, there was a customer at her kite trailer).  Donna flew the foil.   When I looked across the field I couldn’t believe my eyes.  As soon as I caught up with her she told me that she wanted one.  That made my day…

The crowd had started to dwindle down by now.  It was late afternoon and the wind was dying off.  There were only a couple of kites in the sky and George with his fighter kite was one of them.  So I broke out my fighter I brought home from Grand Haven as a souvenir.  I haven’t flown fighters much, just enough to learn how to keep it in the air.  Without trying George and I tangled and I got wrapped around his.  I was able to maneuver around his line and get out of the wrap.  Ah!  So this is what fighter kites are all about!  It was a great experience and what a way to end the day flying. I learned a new kiting skill with a little kite from Michigan.

Everyone made their way back to their cottages and RVs and freshened up from the day.  Then a group of us gathered up on the patio of the General Store with Kevin and Doris.  The sun was setting as we watched the humming birds and talked about the weekend.  Doris enlightened us on how she and Kevin came to start up the Mitchell’s RV Park and Resort.  They started out getting a boat with the intentions on circumnavigating the globe, ended up in Florida and buying a motor home to tour the country.  Along the way they found this property and developed the Park. They have had it for five years and are still expanding.

The Cloudbuster’s kite festival was great!  Good friends and a great time.  I can’t thank everyone enough for the wonderful experience.    Nothing but smiles for three days.  You just can’t ask for anything more.  I would like to offer a special thank you to Gene Merrill for burning all of the pictures he took on DVD and sending them to me.

If you would like more information on the park and events, check out their website at:
Keep an eye on the AKA calendar for next year’s schedule!

Best winds,

Dallas Oliver