Issue 73: Southern Oregon Kite Festival

Going to the ends of the earth…

…and getting there is half the fun – but only half!

Yeah, sometimes it seems like that anyway. You’re going to a kite festival, except – it’s a bit outa the way! So there’re two ways to look at it. Either the trip there is just a Huge Outrageous Hassle… or you’re “On Your Way To Your Next New Adventure!” And I very much prefer the latter viewpoint. Gosh – it’s all part and parcel of that kiting philosophy: If it ain’t fun – DON’T DO IT!

So I’m on my way to the eighteenth iteration of the Southern Oregon Kite Festival (SOKF). But i just say I’m “Going to Brookings!” instead… And I make my plans, get my reservations, check the oil and fill the tank, load up every conceivable hunk of gear an assault team could possibly need for a month, and put it into gear on the Thursday before the fest. The first leg of the trip is about six hours straight down I-5 to Grant’s Pass, OR, where I spend the night at the Shilo Inn – a “destination” stop for me, for a couple of reasons. First, I know I’ll be traveling on the venerable “Redwood Highway” (US-199) tomorrow, and I want do do it during the daytime where I can see the magnificent scenery and I can also avoid the Gawd-Awful curves and hairpins on that hunk of road. The other is that particular Shilo Inn is one of those rare places – an immaculate, comfortable, reasonably priced lodging with a staff that really understands the meaning of the words “Customer Service.” They are AWESOME!!! And Della’s, a mom-and-pop a few doors down, isn’t a bad place to eat, either. So, if you gotta travel, use those “creature comforts” available when and wherever you find ‘em…

The next day, I tackle “The Highway.” Oh, the first part’s kinda tame, but the lower third is absolutely lovely to view, and a bit treacherous to drive. Yes, the scenery is VERY MUCH “worth the drive!” Still, I make it into California almost to the coast, then take the State Route 197 cutoff towards Brookings, and end up at the liquor store just south of the Oregon border where I take on additional supplies for my mythical assault team. Then it’s off to Brookings, straight down to the harbor – where the first person I run into is Gary MacEachern, whom I’d had the pleasure of seeing set a new World’s Record (Still “pending” with the Guinness” people) for the number of kites flown by a single person in three stacks simultaneously, up at Lincoln City a couple of weeks earlier. We laughed and yakked about that event and time, and Gary also filled me in on “the doin’s” for this year’s festival.

So, while Gary went back to wringing out his lovely Gulls, I decided I’d get a kite into the air too, so I pulled out my old favorite, a Focus Skate, and put that light-wind baby aloft. My, did she soar – which was the intent, of course. The kite also had a nice side benefit too. It attracted Peter or “Pete” as I’d come to call him as the weekend progressed. Oh, I’m certain that Pete has a last name, and he probably mentioned it to me too, but I’ve either forgotten it completely or just never filed it away in the first place. No matter, however. “Pete” became my instant resource to figure out what excited the crowd the entire weekend, and I made sure he got a Banquet ticket so could get his reaction on that portion of the show too! And I must say, “Pete” seemed to enjoy it ALL!

…and little by little, the expected denizens and riff-raff we know and love began to magically appear. Ron and Sandy Gibian showed up, accompanied by old friends Al Stroh and Susan Shampo. Penny and Steve Lingenfelter arrived. And John and Mary Gabby too, in from Colorado Springs, CO. And Steve Blasdell was already there, of course – he being at least nostril deep in all the setup activities occurring on the field. Rod and Cindy Thrall also arrived, and various folks began pulling out and assembling kites to put them into the air… Wind is something of a “chancy” deal at Brookings, so everyone had to test the air – as if to determine whether or not it still existed with enough strength to pull a kite aloft. iQuad finally made it to the field, as well as old pal Ben D’Antonio from Revolution Kites, here on his own dime!

Well, the little Skate had been doing yeoman’s work quite nicely as flown by Pete while I yakked with various folks, so I decided to get its big brother, the Manta, out and let Pete REALLY play. I came back a bit later, and Pete had all 500 feet on that winder out and “up there.” Yes, indeedy! The Manta certainly got its time aloft, too! And other people kept arriving. Mark and Jeanette Lummas and Ron Despjado were on the scene. All Washington arrived, but without grandson Aaron this year (though he did bring “son” Aaron instead).

But eventually the sun began to slide toward the horizon, and my belly began to shake my backbone, and it was time for some food. So the Manta came down and got packed away, and just as I was trying to decide where to go to fill my belly, someone said “Hey – There’s FOOD up at the north end of the field.” So we all walked up there and chowed down on tri-tip steaks and “fixins.” It was mostly a feed for the setup crews working the festival, but we kiters were welcome to join in the group too – so we did! And before we were done eating, the entire field had been completely transformed. The sound system was up and crankin’! Most all of the vendors were in place and were laying out their wares. And the local police were making frequent patrols to be certain that none of the “goods” walked away either. GOOD SHOW, Brookings! Nicely done.

Well, after dinner there was nothing to be done but go find my motel room and settle in. My “digs” this year happened to be the “Pacific Sunset Inn” on the north end of the main drag in Brookings. Yes, inexpensive but serviceable, was what I’d searched the Internet for – and its what I got too. It’d been a long trek down here, so maybe a little quality time with a pillow would do me some good… After all, there’s a KITE FESTIVAL tomorrow. And so there was, too.

If you’ve not been to Brookings before, you need to understand a couple of things about this particular festival. For one thing, the location is surrounded by hills on three sides, and the field is definitely “Wind Challenged.” So we all hope for wind coming in off the Pacific Ocean. Yes, there’s a wall of house-trailers just to the west of the flying field so the wind is constantly roiled by those trailers, but breezes from other directions are much worse. And with the only “open” area being straight west of the field, the sun beats down on that narrow strip of sod something fierce! So when you get out of bed in the morning, you (a) say a prayer for WIND, and (b) you don a fair amount of sunscreen, too! Yes, this festival challenges people in several different ways!

The first stop absolutely HAS to be the Oceanside Diner, a little mom-and-pop place right across the harbor that treats all the kitefliers to breakfast during the Southern Oregon Kite Festival. And if it’s not a “destination” place yet, it certainly should be. But whether it is or not – it’s MY place for my Standard Road Breakfast – eggs over medium, a short-order of hash browns, links, and coffee. Nope – you keep your toast, ‘cuz I never eat it anyway! So when I arrive, the Oceanside Diner is in full swing – courtesy of all those meal tickets everyone got in their registration packet. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze in alongside the iQuad bunch – so I got fed without an unreasonable wait. Yup, they still do a marvelous breakfast – and it turns out that they’d also be catering dinner tonight too. Shucks, I’d even taken my travel mug into the Diner with me, so I had a full morning’s supply of coffee when I left after breakfast, too. It doesn’t get much better than that!

The other thing about the Brookings is the “format.” The field is fairly long – maybe 200 yards, but narrow – being maybe 45 yards at the most. So there isn’t really much “free fly” room on that field. So the festival uses the WHOLE FIELD as a “presentation” area – and people from town, particularly those who travel with house-trailers, bring their lawn chairs and completely line the field on the western side (the eastern side being adjacent to the parking lot, and is specifically reserved for the fliers and vendors.). So what you should guess abut now is – there IS no place to “free fly.” Therefore, the “format” that Brookings has adopted over the years is non-stop DEMOS. You set up your kites on the north end… you wait for your name to be called and your music to start, and then you “walk the field” toward the south… towing your kite(s) as you go until your music runs out or you run out of field… Then it’s time for the next person in line to do THEIR demo. And so forth, and so on – all day long!

Arnold Stellema is our intrepid announcer – maybe the “Best in the West,” but he certainly is the “Mouth of Brookings!” And somewhat less evident, but at least as important, is Sandy Gibian – the gracious and kind demo scheduler! So if you want to fly for the crowd (and we all EXPECT you to WANT TO FLY), you get your name on Sandy’s list and you also get your music to Arnold, and then you go and get your kites ready – because your time to demo is definitely coming up. And your time might “come up” 5-6 times a day! Yes – it goes on all day long!

And in amongst it all, there’s that “all the rest” that Arnold deals with… Bios on each of the fliers (after he/she’s flown maybe 5-6 demos already, what else can you say about them? Well, “The Mouth” pulls us through again!). The Public Service announcements: “Red Dodge pickup – license number 123-XYZ. You’re in a resident’s parking spot. Move your vehicle quickly… or we’ll tow it for you!” Mention of the Brookings event’s sponsors. Most kite festivals have 5-6 sponsors, but Arnold had THREE PAGES of sponsors to mention in Brookings this year. And, of course, he was responsible for selling the last few Banquet tickets too.

And also the sale of Raffle Tickets. Mary Gabby usually makes a kite to Raffle off to help seed next year’s festival. This year, she made two! In addition, there was a third kite to be raffled off, and I cannot for the life of me remember who made that third one. These are raffles outside of the fund-raiser “Banquet” Saturday night, which is all auctions. “The Mouth” mentions kite raffles frequently.

Anyway, you get the idea. Multiple things going on simultaneously.

And unfortunately (or perhaps perhaps fortunately?) I don’t remember the exact flight order for the entire weekend. Indeed, all those demos tend to run together in my mind for some reason. So, instead, I’ll mention each of the fliers who were there, perhaps throw in a little bio information, and then I’ll try to give you an idea of how they flew and how well they were appreciated by the crowd.

Let’s start with my pal, Ron Gibian. He’s been a “force” in kite design and kite-making for at least a quarter of a century. His kites are glorious in the sky (I own a half dozen or more of his custom kites, plus some more of his “production” kites.) This year’s major offering was a circular kite he calls the “Round Tuit!” It’s impeccably sewn, and has taken roughly a year to create, adjust, and tune. See the photos, looking for a “round” kite with long fuzzy tails, please… Oh, Ron will say I’m making too much of his creativity and his skills as a designer/builder, but he’s up there near the pinnacle of the kite-making craft, folks.

Al Washington has attended all eighteen Brookings kite festivals. He flies dual-line Sport Kites to music – usually blues or R&B tunes… and dances (his body) along with flying his kites. Al is so good at what he does that he makes it look easy. yup – it’s easy to think that – until YOU try it! There’s a reason Al has been invited back every year of this festival. Al and his kites really do “dance to the music.” Al usually brings his young grandson with him to Brookings, but young Aaron is spending this summer going to Football Camp in Georgia instead.

Ronda Brewer and Lindsey Johnson are a couple from Lincoln City who’d love to say they made their living from Kites. Yes, they make and sell a variety of things to enhance your pleasure as a kite flier. Yes, they’re committed “kiters.” And there aren’t enough hours in the day for them to use to be involved in the sport of Kite flying. And while Lindsey’s strengths lie in the manufacturing side of kiting, Ronda’s lie in the teaching side of kiting. Together, they’re a formidable couple.

Amy Doran is a mom who loves to fly kites. I don’t think it’s been five years yet that Amy’s been competing with kites, but she’s really coming into her own now. She’s a two-time winner at the American Kitefliers Association’s Grand National competitions in Individual Outdoor Unlimited, and has made something of a name for herself with her parodies of Charly Chaplin flying kites. She’s also a very capable kite designer and builder. These days, Amy flies mostly 4-line “Revolution” kites, usually to show tunes or “easy listening” music. Besides all this, Amy is a “Regional Director for the American Kitefliers Association.” Oh – and this year, she’s sporting a new title too – “Connor’s Mom!”

Team “Too Much Fun” hails from Southern California, and consists of Mark and Jeanette Lummas and Ron Despojado. They’ve been together as a team for close to a decade now, and all three have been competitors and World class champions in the past. As Too Much Fun, they currently concentrate on demonstration flying instead. In addition, each of them flies an individual routine, and Jeanette and Mark fly as a pair they call “Bi-Dance.” Too Much Fun is unique as a kite demonstration team in that they fly both dual-line kites and quad-line kites simultaneously in the same routines.

Penny Lingenfelter and husband Steve travel to festivals in a big silver van chock-filled with all of her paraphernalia… only some of which is kites. Penny flies “in costume” most of the time. It’s her usual method to enlist everyone within reach who will admit to being a “kid” in her productions – who are also dressed in costume – and at times, these demonstrations nearly reach Cecil de Mille proportions. So, you can count on Penny – and her “kids” – to flood the field with “flying entertainment,” often accompanied by the words and the tunes from Dr. Seuss…

John and Mary Gabby come all the way from Colorado Springs to spend their vacation at the Southern Oregon Kite Festival every year. Master Kite-makers together and consistently capable of stunning kite creations, they always bring at least one kite to Brookings for Auction or Raffle. This year, Mary contributed two kites to raffle off to the crowd. A generous and caring couple, John and Mary contribute “above and beyond” to Brookings… and the Brookings festival loves them for it too!

Gary MacEachern and wife Nancie are “locals,” living right there in Brookings! Gary is a kite-maker extraordinaire, and an exceptional kite pilot too. Gary used to make some “side money” making kites for sale as the owner of the Oregon Kite Company (OKC), though I am not certain that he’s doing very much of that anymore. Still, Gary’s busy at the sewing machine anyway. He’s made himself 48 identical black kites and strung them together in three stacks of 16 kites each. Then he took them up to Lincoln City a couple of weeks ago and flew them for at least 6 minutes and 15 seconds – enough for a new World’s Record. But besides the fun of all that, he still makes and flies his OKC “Gulls” and flies them two or three at a time to Grand Opera music for SOKF patrons.

Of course, there’s iQuad. These guys are just hands-down – GREAT!!! The team is mature enough now that we’ve seen different groups of pilotsfly as iQuad, so that the team can accommodate different day-job work schedules. They have literally been around the world to fly kites! For this iteration of the team, we had six pilots – John Barresi (captain), Steve de Rooy, Barry (Bazzer) Poulter, J. D. Fabich, Takako Barresi, and David (Monkey) Hathaway. All accomplished quad-line pilots, each flies individual demos as well as “team” and the two Barresis also fly as a pairs quad-line duo together. But shucks, that’s nothing – Steve de Rooy can fly pairs quad-line kites all by himself!

David Gomberg has GOT to be the “Most Traveled” kite flier in the world. David and his wife Susan (who was absent this time) own Gomberg Kite Productions International, plus they literally travel the world to fly demonstrations of their kites, and also own two retail kite stores, Northwest Wings, in Lincoln City, Oregon. Together and separately, they travel the world creating, selling, and flying their kites.

Susan Shampo was a long time nationally ranked competitor, and is now flying only occasionally and mainly for demonstrations. Since she and partner Al Stroh left San Diego and moved to Brookings, she’s been flying mainly Peter Betancourt’s dual-line masterpieces. Her routines are not quick or “flashy” since she prefers the “Old School” low-and-slow flying style, but Susan’s “touch” on the lines is so fine, almost “sensual,” that she brings out the very best in those lovely old PBK gems. Her flying is flat-out Gorgeous!

Rod and Cindy Thrall are a couple who used to be “on the kite trail” almost every summer weekend. Now, they spend more time at home together, and do a little less demonstration flying and kite building than they used to do. Rod is a splendid “large kite” maker, and Cindy is responsible for some of the most entrancing banners imaginable. Together, with the kites and banners they own and other flying things they’ve created, this couple is fully capable of stocking their very own kite festival. But we’re delighted that they’ve decided to come to Brookings again instead of going off alone. Extremely nice folks!

Gordon Osterlund has been flying kites with the Bay Area Sundowners for two decades now. And while half his team was missing, he brought three critical ingredients to Brookings this year. One was a nice young man (whose name I do NOT remember) to fly with… Another was kites to fly… And third, and probably most important ingredient he brought was his own enthusiasm for flying kites, and that includes his enthusiasm for flying AT BROOKINGS too! You know what, Gordon? Brookings loves you too!

Nathan Ostovar is fifteen years old and has already been flying kites for 2/3rds of his life. The old duffers – like Barresi – haven’t a chance! Moreover, Nathan is willing to listen, willing to try new things, willing to learn, and willing to grow! This kid’s going to be around for a long time to come folks, and his abilities on the flying field are already pretty darned good!

We think of Steve Blasdell as a quad-line kite pilot. Brookings thinks of Steve as a member of their Kite Festival committee. Both groups are right, of course – he’s both! He’s a pretty fair Rev pilot, and a valuable member of the festival committee too!

And finally, there’s Connor Doran. We all like to say we knew him way back when… When he didn’t know anything about flying kites. When he was struggling to learn to fly a dial-line kite for the first time. Before he ever picked up a Rev… And certainly before he got his hands on a Indoor Rev of his own! Yeah – that’s all true, too. We DID know him way back when… Connor, how far you’ve come – and in such an amazingly short time, too. You, and America’s Got Talent, have really turned it up a notch in the kiting world! We’re really proud, and pleased, at how far you’ve come…

Well – enough of the “people recaps and bios”… Let’s get back to the Brookings kite festival… After the Boy Scouts presented the colors, and the National Anthem was sung, we were underway with our first demos. The fliers were getting warmed up, and the appreciative crowd was with them all the way… So here’s a summary of some of those little things that caught my attention…

Gary MacEchern was out early, this time flying a pair of dual-line kites (singles) just to show off a little, and get both the audience and himself warmed up in the process too. Gary flew a beautiful routine, and I wish I knew what the music was that accompanied Gary. Anyway, he set the bar fairly high to start with, so everyone else could see that it was not only possible – it was necessary too. Thanks Gary Mac.

Susan Shampo came out pretty early too. Another “local” willing to show these “visiting firemen” how it’s done. Yeah, we paid attention to you Susan.. You and that PBSK Bad Boy SUL… Low, slow, and oh-so graceful… You had that kite caressing the vapors, ma’am! Wonderful stuff…

Sometime in mid-morning, Ron Gibian put his first walk-thru on. Ron displayed about eight kites he’s made over the last few years, but his Round Tuits figured prominently in this first walk-thru, though the wind hadn’t really kicked in yet, so every flier struggled to keep his kite aloft at times. Ron, your stuff is glorious. I think so – and so did the crowd.

It wasn’t long before iQuad was out there too, and kicked it in gear with their Indiana Jones “Raiders March” suite routine… I think it’s certainly the best, and likely the most “practiced” routine they have. They stayed in sync, there were no “dead spots,” and everything just “flowed” from start to finish! Good job, guys!

And so it went – throughout the day! Kite builders did walk-thrus. Kite performers – performed.

Oh sure, the morning was “wind challenged” for everyone – except iQuad, of course. Rod Thrall would put up a light kite to test the wind, and come back out of the staging area shaking his head… And Gordon Osterlund of the Sundowners just bided his time – knowing that mid-afternoon was his best – maybe his only – shot… Sandy Gibian was rushing around, gathering names on her list of demos. Arnold Stellema just pulling thoughts out of thin air and making them work… and people going out onto the field and giving it their best efforts – and the crowd was warming up to it.

Al Washington’s turn came, and “Twinkle-Toes” flew his kite well to some R&B, and came back off with a sheen of sweat, along with a big grin, and followed by some appreciative applause from the folks in the lawn chairs along the road.

Not to be out-done, Connor came out and used his B-Series Outdoor Revolution quad like he does with an Indoor Rev, and “milked” it for the crowd. Low, slow, and oh-so seductive… And the crowd ate it up. Was that Frank Sinatra he was flying to? Yes, it was! Well that was worth another 20% on the applause meter too. Those older folks understand about that Frank Sinatra!

The iQuad boys (and girl) decided they’d throw in some individual demos, so each signed up one right after another… Here comes John… Then here comes Bazzer Poulter afterwards… and Steve deRooy… with David Hathaway… and Takako Barresi… and J.D. Fabich too! All one right after another. All with good response from the crowds, and some (deRooy and Poulter) with “better than good” responses.

And suddenly I noticed that the vendors had lines of folks queued up – because it was lunchtime already…

WHOoaoOH !!! LUNCHTIME ??? And all the behind-the-scenes machinery kicks into gear, and those not already on Sandy’s demo list – go to eat at the “worker’s tent” at the North end of the field instead.

So Dave Gomberg goes to one of his huge stuff-bags and pulls out 4 or 5 smallish “Bols” and, “It’s time for the RUNNING of the Bols!!!” (Meaning – Arnold, here’s a “break” for you. GO EAT! Which he does…)

Gomberg grabs and holds the fort. Kids come out onto the field and compete in the “Running of the Bols.” Parents are happy. Their kids are getting exercised, at zero expense. All the fliers are relieved, and have a chance to sit and eat, and talk to each other like humans… The Bols roll on, kids get tired. Gomberg engineers a “Grand Finale” race to the finish… Arnold wipes his face and visits the restroom. Sandy returns, having gathered more names for her demo list while she ate. And finally, with everyone in their assigned places again, Gomberg gives in, halts the kids’ activities, and returns the exhausted children to their respective parents! Then – Gomberg goes to eat!

Arnold and Sandy roll on as if nothing had happened… Demos resume, but with a slight change. Everyone who wanted to has had their first shot at a demo. Now, it’s time to get serious about this stuff, so you can put a little “Umph” into it now. So everyone seems to kick it up a notch in the afternoon.

Amy goes to her car and pulls out a bag and dives into her tent to don the “Charley” costume.

Not to be outdone, Penny shows up as the “Cat In The Hat” to recruit kids for her big extravaganza… coming soon to a flying field very near YOU! Wanna be a part of it?

Meanwhile Gary MacEachern has two of his stacks of little black kites on the field and looks to be readying to put on a show. And since he’s up next, Gary does just that.. flying his stacks for a while until one of ‘em gets twisted mid-air and tangles with the other stack – bringing both of ‘em to the ground. Yep – He’s done. Who’s next? Yadda-yadda-yadda!

Amy does her Charlie bit, and WOWs ‘em. The audience loves “Charley,” but that’s okay because Charley loves the audience too! Yup, we saw “Charley” out there on Saturday, and I must say, he’s gotten even better with age, too, Amy!

Gordon Osterlund tries another attempt to launch a Sundowner stack again – and nearly succeeds this time! Well shucks… another hour and I might have enough wind… Guess I’d best go rustle up some pilots to fly ‘em, huh?

Nathan Ostovar takes the field and does a creditable job with his dual-line sport kite. Yeaae, Nathan! And the crowd agrees, too!

John and Mary Gabby get their Demo shot and display a stunning new Roc creation with visual imagery unlike anything on the market today – all Mary’s ideas, of course. I’ve forgotten the play-on-words name of the kite, however…

Others demo also. Dave Gomberg shows eight Japanese Rokkakus with character faces, and explains each one as they are pulled down the field. The Roks are lovely – and I want an entire set!

Finally, Penny Lingenfelter gets it together enough so that she – together with probably 30 children of various ages – perform to her Cat In The Hat parody of the Dr. Seuss book, using up probably 10 minutes of the audience’s time. From the time kites for this production are broken out and costumes unloaded and donned, through the on-the-field display, followed by retrieval of her costumes and the tear-down and storage of those kites — probably only took Penny an hour and a half!

And Ron Gibian got another demo shot too. This time we saw several of his older kites, including various sizes and colors and sail patterns of his famous “AstroGlide” kites. He also had a gorgeous cellular kite he designed and built a couple of years back named “Calypso” present and assembled, but I did NOT see that kite actually take to the air.

Too Much Fun (Mark and Jeanette Lumma and Ron Despojado) has already demoed at least once, but I missed that session for some reason. Still, Mark and Jeanette volunteered to join Gordon Osterlund and his pal from the Sundowners to make up a foursome and fly the Sundowner’s pretty Hyperkites for the crowd. So, near the end of the afternoon a “composite” Bay Area Sundowners took to the air and displayed their lovely Red/White/Blue stacks at Brookings again. And while Gordon may have thought the assembled pilots somewhat “makeshift” both the real Sundowners and the Bi-Dance team (Mark and Jeanette) pulled it off – flying those kites with style, grace, and elan. Yup – GREAT SHOW, folks! Hear that applause? Well, it’s VERY well deserved! Congratulations, and our very admiring Thanks, too!

Finally the afternoon dwindled away, and kiters began to pack up and head for the showers. Tonight was the big “Banquet” over at the Holiday Inn nearby. See you there about 6:00 PM.

And we all made it to the Banquet… Or rather, those who chose to be there made it. Great camaraderie, of course. I’d made it my business to obtain a banquet ticket for new-found friend “Pete” and we sat together and compared notes. Yup – were were both havin’ FUN!!! Pete was in awe of much he’d discovered today, and regaled me a bit about what he found fascinating about the festival. Isn’t it wicked fun to hear someone else praise the sport you love so much? We had a grand time today – both of us. A nice guy, and another Nam-vet, too.

Then, a fine dinner under our belts, we settled in to help raise a little money so there’ll be another Brookings festival next year. Time to watch – and participate in – the “Dave Gomberg” show, better known as the 2010 Southern Oregon Kite Festival AUCTION!

We rag on David Gomberg a bit from time to time, but he’s truly in his element when he steps up to the podium and begins auctioning off items. No bag raffles for Brookings either, No Sir-ee! Everything you see before you is for sale only to the highest bidder, so loosen your shoulder muscles now, and get ready to raise your hands TO BID!

There is the usual stuff there – up for grabs, and Dave soon settles into his rhythm and he’s good for the night. Handmade note-cards imprinted with kites. Who’ll give me $15? Okay got 15, who’ll give me 20? And things begin to disappear. There’re a coupe of kites up there that interest me, so I’ll stick around until they’re gone. I might even wait to see the what the high bid is on that lovely Edo that Rod Thrall built, too.

And then there’s the “Pop” kite. This baby has a flexible frameset, and rolls up inside its own little pouch. Need to fly? Just pull the kite out of the pouch, throw it into the air with a line attached and FLY!!! Just $10… Who’ll give me $10?…. Yadda-yadda-yada… SOLD to the gentleman right here at this table for TWENTY DOLLARS!!!

Somewhere in the middle, we all began to notice that Willow Robin was bidding up to about $18 on some item – then stop, and someone else would eventually win the item. And after that happened 3 or 4 times, Dave finally couldn’t resist asking Willow about the $18… It turns out that Steve deRooy had asked her to buy something for him and he gave her a $20 dollar bill to use to buy it. She’d paid $2 for the item, given it to Steve, and was going to use the remaining $18 for herself but she had no more money, so she couldn’t exceed the $18.00!

David sold two Wild River excursions – separately, but to the same guy. He sold handmade lost-wax-casted sterling silver “kite” jewelry. He sold dinners for two. He sold kites… and I got interested when we got to the Rokkakus, near the end of the auctions. I’d watched a kite of Barry Poulter’s in the air that afternoon, a lovely orange/gold and black Rok, with most impeccable flight manners. And THAT KITE was up for auction. Well, I’ll spare you the suspense. I quit bidding and let the other guy have the kite – the “other guy” being the kid that Gordon Osterlund of the Sundowners had brought with him. You see, I also knew Barry’s “list price” on that kite so I knew when to stop bidding, too! But the kid from the Bay Area got a really good deal on a really fine kite!

Yeah, Pete and I waited right til the bitter end. Rod Thrall’s kite topped “my” Rok by almost $150 as I remember, though I could be wrong abut the amount on that one! Then it was off to the motel again for some shut-eye…

Morning broke bright and clear on Sunday, but your humble scribe was only so-so… I had a small bout with stomach upset during the night, and need a little “relax and refuel” time… So grab a coffee, and git myself down to the Oceanside Diner again, and chow down. Yeah, there WAS a free ticket for a pancake breakfast at the firehouse, but I preferred the food at Oceanside, and apparently so did several other kiters. Anyway, the camaraderie was good, the food slid down easy, and I was soon off to the festival again.

Sunday mornings at Brookings are kinda slow… It’s “Church” day, and many of yesterday’s attendees were elsewhere – either manning the pews, or sleeping in… Still, we had a decent crowd by 10:00 AM, and The Mouth wound us up and set us free… We had a kite festival to put on, and everyone did their part – old hands at it by now. Isn’t it interesting how one day’s experience turns novices into full-blown experts? Anyway, Arnold – truly an expert – was in fine fettle on Sunday morning, and between he and Sandy Gibian, we were soon off and running…

Since I was still a bit under the weather from my mid-night “handicap,” I wandered aimlessly for a while. Not a “bad” thing, really… It’s how I get some of my best anecdotes and materials for these articles. Stand back and “feel” the experience, and likely someone will come along and strike up a conversation – and “feed” me a tidbit or “nugget” to be remembered later and subsequently end up in Kitelife… So that’s what I did.

Out on the field, we experienced the same flaky low-to-nothing wind conditions that signify a morning in Brookings during the summertime. Nothing new there, and the pilots were all compensating well…

Team iQuad flew – because they’re capable of flying in next to nothing as a matter of course. They have the kites and the experience levels to do it well, too so they got the call while others waited for wind. And it wasn’t all that long before a few other hearty souls jumped in to help out too, flying Ultralights and Super-ultralight kites if they had ‘em.

Speaking of iQuad, I’m remiss in not singling out one of their members in Saturday’s comments. Steve deRooy is really a “one-off” dude. I’d not believed it possible until I saw it with my own eyes, but word of Steve’s particular talents began to leak out around the edges of casual conversation. In a word – Steve flies two Revolutions simultaneously – by himself! Now, while the “word” was that he could do it, but… it makes some small difference if the “word” and the “fact” actually disagree substantially. So I have been more than delighted in watching Steve’s progress in this “art,” and I’m pleased to report the Steve has not only demonstrated this capability – repeatedly. He is now to the point where he is well past “capable” and into absolute “Mastery!”

So while Steve flew well with iQuad of course, and demoed his mastery with one Revolution quite well too, it’s his mastery of flying “pairs” Revs all by himself that absolutely WOWed the audience, both on Saturday and again on Sunday! And the “mastery” difference to my way of thinking is that fact that his “pairs” routines are flown to music and beautifully choreographed. Gosh, his Revolution flying capabilities are absolutely breathtaking at times…

And we also saw a couple of other fine performances on Sunday as well. Yes, Too Much Fun demoed, I believe, but there were a couple of other performances from these folks that were inspirational as well. Mark and Jeanette Lummas are both fine pilots, and have been flying together for years as Bi-Dance. But this is the first time I’ve seen them fly a piece in the “he-flies – she flies” mode – sort of that “You say Potato and I say Patatoe” business – with fliers trading flight time while the other one rests. Sort of a “Question – Answer” response demo with Jeanette and Mark swapping flying roles… The result was simply gorgeous flying, and the impact of the routine as choreographed was just stunning! So simple in concept, too. I’m surprised that many Male/Female pairs fliers haven’t adopted that “tradeoff” style…

And… the “other” Lummas gave us a demo on Sunday as well. Those who know the Lummas family are aware of Ben Lummas. Ben has had a tough time of it the past few years, battling bone Cancer as a kid can do that to you… Still, Ben’s always been a fighter, and Mark and Jeanette have done all they possibly could to find a way to cure him and to keep Ben going through the many difficult therapies. Well, Ben’s had his leg operated on, as a bone donor for his cancerous arm. The result is successful at this point, and Ben is growing up like any other kid – and he’s not so little anymore either.

Ben Lummas took the field and demoed, using his dad’s deal-line kite… Oh, from a flying technique standpoint it probably wasn’t all that spectacular (though no crashes anyway), but just seeing the fine success Ben is making of his life at this point – as demonstrated by his flying – brought a tear to my eye in remembrance of a time a few years back where we saw Ben on a flying field down in Huntington Beach, CA when Ben wasn’t doing so hot… having lost his hair to therapy, and being very “fragile” as a young kid. We kite fliers had all contributed to his “med fund” back then of course, and we’re all pleased as punch when we see Ben again under any circumstances. It’s really nice to have the chance to deal with “Success” this time. Way to Go, Ben!

And… Gary MacEchern was back at it again. We saw him fly his pairs stacks of “sixteens” again, and also got a glimpse of a pair of Gulls with lovely new sail patterns on them too.

And Ron Gibian had another run-through with more of his fine kites – some of which we’d seen the day before, but they certainly could stand another glance… You’re a fine designer / builder, Ron. All of the accolades are well-deserved, my friend…

Penny Lingenfelter? Well, of course! Penny will always provide another “production” and use all available help in the process whether you’re really a child, or just think you’re a 50 year-old-kid-at-heart! Yes, Penny got another demo in.

By and large, EVERYBODY demoed… It was just more of the same – and “immersion” into the world of kites isn’t really a bad thing is it?

But finally, like all good things, the 18th Annual Southern Oregon Kite Festival at Brookings wound to a halt… Folks began packing up and pulling out. Those who lived within driving distance may have opted to head straight home, but most of the gang would either team-drive the distances later on, or hang on overnight and tackle the highways and byways in the morning. I would be traveling with the “morning” crew because I would choose to drive US-101 up through Coos Bay to Reedsport before I would cut over for I-5. I had an appointment with an old friend in Eugene, OR at 4:00 PM, so I felt I could take the time to drive the “scenic route” before my appointment, with home slated for “later on.”

Anyway, dinner on Sunday night was the traditional “pizza-fest” at the Wild River Pizza place on the main drag in Brookings. Yeah, I stopped in, had my pizza, and hung out with my friends. After a couple of day of doing “kite business,” it’s kind of nice to let your hair down and party a little with your friends. But, still feeling the last remaining twinges from my middle-of-night experience, I shortened my stay with an eye to getting an early start in the morning. Maybe there’s a nice mom-and-pop cafe in Coos Bay that sells a good road breakfast?

I have to tell you that the stretch along the coast between Brookings and Reedsport is drop-dead gorgeous! Or, at least it was on that Monday morning… And so is the drive up the Umpqua River Valley to Eugene, as well. I arrive way too early, so I stopped at a roadside rest area and called my friend – a commercial photographer – just to let him know I was available earlier than scheduled for a bite to eat, a cup of coffee, or some good conversation. He called back a short while later, telling me that things had gone from poor to rotten with his schedule and he’d not be able to meet at all today. All right – all is forgiven, and I’m sorry about your day, so I will just head for the barn early instead. Therefore, I was home in Vancouver right about dinner-time.

Yup – Another fine kite-fest in the bag again. I sincerely hope your July 16th through 18th weekend was as nice, and as much fun, as mine was! But if not, you’d be most welcome to join me in Brookings, OR at the same time next year. I certainly plan on being there again for the 19th Annual Southern Oregon Kite Festival…

Fair Winds and Good Friends –