Issue 70: AKA Corner

How many times have you flown a kite this New Year? Don’t let the weather be a deterrent! Either adopt the attitude of those of us in the north and get dressed to go hang out on the ice, or use this time to travel south and participate in some fabulous festivals. This is also the time of year for workshops. Besides local club events, think about attending either the Maryland Kite Retreat during February, or the Fort Worden Kitemakers Retreat in March.

Have you ever been to a kite festival on the ice? The most important piece of clothing is good boots; you’ll be outside all day. Sandbags or dog stakes don’t work too well. Instead kites are anchored either using ice pitons screwed into the ice, or by drilling a hole thru the ice then a 2 x 4 with a rope wrapped around is pushed under to form a toggle bolt type hold down. We will be attending 4 ice festivals this year. The largest of these will be held in Clear Lake IA on February 17. It is a gathering of kiters from around the Midwest including ND, MN, WI, IL, KS, MO, IA and more. See pictures of previous years and find more information at Check the AKA calendar to find one close to you.

Before I forget, the AKA is holding a contest to design a new poster to promote National Kite Month. The winner will receive $100! Yep, actual cash money. Wouldn’t that check be a nice way to pay for that new kite you spotted at the local retailer? All the rules are posted in the AKA Kite Talk Forum, or drop me a note and I’ll email them to you. Designs are being accepted until March 1, 2010. The winning poster will be posted on the NKM website for free download and use by event organizers around the world.

National Kite Month is a not-for-profit venture co-founded by the American Kitefliers Association and the Kite Trade Association International. Kite events around the world help introduce people to the fun of kite flying, the rich history of kites, the stunning artistry of kitemakers, and how kites can be used as educational tools. The NKM website can help you put together a program for whatever kind of group or event you are hosting.

National Kite Month kicks off on March 27 with the Smithsonian Festival in Washington DC. Every year there are dozens of events ranging from a simple workshop in the local pre-schools, library displays, scout groups, senior centers, and festivals across the US and around the world. Be sure to list your event on the calendar at

As you head out to those events, think about what an impact your words and actions have on people that are just starting to become involved with kites.

By and large kiters are an open welcoming group of people. We love to spread the joy and educate the public about kites. I urge you to take a few minutes to chat with people that drop by the field. Encourage them to tug on the line or pose for pictures in front of your kites. Try to find the time to help a person or 2 set up their new kite. Help them find the wind direction and learn the better ways to start other than running! Assist them launch it into the wind. Don’t you remember that first time your kite just went straight up? That is still the best feeling in the world. If you have a durable sport kite, maybe give a quick lesson.

A few minutes spent explaining why they are being asked to not grab onto that big kites will make a friend and still keep them safe. None of us wants to see a child or adult knocked over and hurt by a kite. Even when the kites are large, the public thinks of them as fun toys and not as the dangerous objects they can be. A smile and polite request usually gets a better reaction than a snarl and scream.

While we’re talking about a few words making a difference, what about extending that philosophy to our fellow kiters? There aren’t enough of us to have divisions. So what if we each have a different favorite type of kite?

Those differences are what keep it interesting and never boring. There are no bad kites, just under-educated kiters. Don’t put up a display and just walk away expecting others to watch your kites. At the same time, if you see someone working alone, ask if you can help. It’s a lot of work to put up a banner display or multiple kites.

The field fairies don’t come out and stake fields. Other volunteers do. If you are flying or competing on that field, you should feel some sense of responsibility to help get it set up. We’re all in this together.

Until next time, take time to fly,

Barbara Meyer