Issue 63: Kites Over Granbury

Flying Kites for Kids in Crisis is a kite festival held in Granbury, Texas. Granbury is about an hour drive south west of Ft. Worth, TX. Granbury is a quaint historic small town showcasing a town square where most of the buildings are the original architecture of the 1800’s and have been declared historic monuments. This year kites of all sizes invaded the skies over Granbury on October 18th and 19th. I don’t know if you saw it in the news, but just a couple of months ago UFOs were reported in Stephenville, TX just about 20 miles down the road from Granbury. The first reports were shortly before the festival. Here is a link to a YouTube video where Anderson Cooper reports on the sightings after the festival:

If we had enough wind just one of those nights…well you can guess we are going to have a lot of fun next year.

Stephanie Gaines owns a small kite shop, Family Fun Kites, which is right off the main highway as you go into town from the DFW area. You will often find the “Kite Lady” as she is known locally, flying kites out in front of the store in a small grassy area next to the highway.

For this article I wanted to get the impressions and experiences from the other folks that attended and participated. Therefore, you might see some experiences repeated, but these are the experiences that we all enjoyed the most and shared together. I will start this off with our achievements and let the others tell you about their experiences:

Last year we scrambled to put things together at the last minute. But we got it done and we raised a little over $4000.00 to benefit the Kids. The Children’s Advocacy Center of Hood and Somervell Counties is the organization that helps the Kids in Crisis. They have worked with us over the past couple of years and it is our pleasure to be able to help them. This year we were able to raise the contribution to $5800.00. So, how do you raise this kind of money in a town with a population just over 8,000? Stephanie pounds the pavement getting donations for the raffles and sponsors for the different flying fields. This year Stef came up with a novel idea of getting sponsors for Candy Drops. Last year we had about three candy drops on both Saturday and Sunday. I managed the Candy Drops last year and we had 20+ MPPH winds. Stef called me the weekend before the festival and said she had some great news but I would hate her for it. She said she would tell me and then I could hang up on her. Okay, now my interest is peaking, “What is it I asked?” She told me that she had gotten sponsors for Candy Drops at $100.00 per drop. What a great idea! Why should I be upset about that? Then she told me that she had 10 drops sponsored. What can you say; it is going to be a busy day. We didn’t have the big winds that we had last year and the Sky Hook we planned to use wasn’t going to handle the weight. Enter Rick Hawkins and his 252. Rick saved the day and we had candy raining from the sky all weekend long.

David Goad. I met David about two years ago at a festival we had in Arlington, TX. David has few of those old school vintage kites. The ones I have only read about, but got to see up close and personal:

“It is always wonderful to go to a fly, not only for the love of flying kites, the enjoyment of seeing the great inflatable “sea monsters” but that it was all for a very good cause. It was wonderful news that the event raised the funds that it did. Seeing the exhibitions of the dual kite flying and the quad line buggy pulls, were a real treat to me. This was the first kiting event that my girlfriend, Meredith had ever attended and was really amazed at all of the sites, the skill and the wonderful kites that were flown and on display.”

George Weber is a founding member of the Dallas area kite club JOTS, (Jewels of the Sky). George has been a great help to me with the festivals we attend in the DFW area. George was tasked with maintaining the single line field and this gave him the opportunity to see and talk to more folks than I was able to get too:

“We were blessed this year with perfect weather and a new location for the Granbury Kite Festival benefiting “Kids for Crisis”. Stephanie and Roger Gaines made sure we had plenty of room this year to display and fly the Large Inflatables, Sport, Buggy, Custom Single Lines and Fighter Kites. The large demonstration field was utilized all day, and with the PA and Music system the general public was educated and entertained both days. There were many unique single line kites flown both days, Rokakus, Trains, Genki’s, Coynes, Deltas, and Bird Designs.”

On Saturday our friend Yaoting Pang from Arlington entertained everyone with his skills flying his Red-Hand Painted Hawk Kite from China. Yaoting has a custom kite reel from China for this kite that allows him to maneuver it in the sky in such a manner that one believe it is a real “Bird in the Sky”!!! He can perform dives, circles, and glides, and many people mistake it for a real bird when Yaoting has it a couple hundred feet up in the sky. As a side note, I once observed Yaoting flying his hawk kite and some Red-Tailed Hawks spotted it and made some offensive moves towards it!!!! I guess that sums up its authenticity!!! Yaoting also had a small kite train of 65 kites that he anchored to a small tree in the field and it flew for hours! With the new large field available for this event, we were able to shift the kite fields as need be according to the wind conditions.

On Saturday we had Northeasterly winds, and on Sunday, Southeasterly. We had the large kites on the West end of the field, the demo in the center facing route 377 and the single lines on the North end. The general public was able to fly their kites on South side of the demo field. Barry Ogletree from Tyler and Rick Hawkins from Houston, had their large collections of huge Inflatables up both days, and you could see them for miles! Rick had numerous candy drops for the kids from his large Sutton Flow Form. Barry had numerous custom designed Peter Lynn kites, and one had to be there to see them to get the full appreciation. Barry and Rick both had safety teams helping to attend to their kites. Larry Whitacre and Karen Wilbert from Lewisville had a ground display and flew their custom Rokakus and large Thunderbird Delta. The Ploofs from Round Rock-Dyana and Steven flew many single line kites and flew their new Genki kite for everyone. Brent Sutherland from Goldthwaite performed buggy demos all day while his wife Melissa managed the PA and announcements. Troy Gunn from Wichita Falls provided sport kite and quad line demos as well as team flying with Dallas Oliver-Arlington, Stephanie Gaines-Granbury- and Larry Whitacre-Lewisville. Kyle Wilson-Mineral Wells flew a stack of sport kites and Henry Kitchens-Weatherford provided some demos of his sport kites. Of course Gayle Woodul our Regional AKA Director was invaluable with setting up the fields and keeping the event flowing in an orderly fashion. There were many other single line Kiters both days that added colors to the sky and contributed to the event.

It is a bonus when we have a large area to set-up the individual flying fields and have ample parking. A good time was had by all, and it was a financial success for the “Kids for Crisis Organization”. Everyone looks forward to next year’s #4 fall festival! Many thanks again to Stephanie and Roger Gaines and Dallas Oliver for putting together this fall event.

Last but not least, a short piece from the “Kite Lady” herself, Stephanie Gaines:

The candy drops were very cool. I just love watching the kids attack all that candy. I think we ended up doing close to 20 candy drops and I did not even end up with a drop of my own blood spilling. NOW THAT WAS COOL.

One of the best experiences that really stood out to me at the festival was a volunteer coming up to me and telling me how she had dreaded volunteering to work at the festival. She thought “how boring watching someone holding a string and flying a kite”, she had no idea what she was about to encounter. She was truly amazed; she was really surprised when Barry and his team started putting all those big kites in the sky. She loved it and said she will be back again.

Next fun thing was getting to fly Team with Troy Gunn and Larry Whitacre. When you’re trying to keep the festival on track, you don’t get to fly much other than helping someone try and get their new kite in the air. But getting to fly with these guys made my day.

I have so much fun at the festival, but I don’t stop there. I have a new fund raiser going on in the store. You donate a toy and you get to put your name in a raffle box. I have a ton of stuff to give away, kites, windsocks etc. The toys will go to needy children in our community.  I love raising money for a good cause and helping out the kids in the community.

As for me, the festival is just plain fun! There are kids of all ages and a few that just enjoyed watching the smiles on the faces of the children. We even had cheerleaders from one of the local schools stop by and entertain the crowd with their cheers.

But I would have to say that my favorite part is at the end of the day when we all gather in the court yard of the hotel. Stef brought in some of the best BBQ I have tasted. We caught up on what had been going on with everyone throughout the year and got to know each other better. I haven’t been to the AKA Nationals yet, so I was most fascinated with the stories of those that did go this year. Sharing good times, stories and the fellowship with the Texas Kiting Family always makes the festivals my favorite part.

Can’t think of a better way to close the season…

Dallas Oliver