Issue 75: South Padre Island Competition

Sponsored by Windchasers Kite Shop

It’s not often we attend a kite festival where the weather and wind are just about perfect, and it’s very rare it happens on both days of a two-day event.

Well, it happened this time at the 13th Annual South Padre Island Kite Competition/Festival held November 6-7, 2010, hosted by Windchasers Kite Shop, owner of which is Team SPI’s very own Guy Blatnik. After all the problems at the 2009 festival that Mother Nature threw at us, such as red tide, coastal flooding from a hurricane in the Gulf which put most of the flats under water, and rain, it was nice to see we were rewarded with excellent kite flying conditions for 2010’s festival.

Friday night was our routine kite gathering, meet and greet, at our favorite hangout Padre Island Brewing Company. By the end of the evening, we had half the downstairs full of our kite family. Many of our kiting friends extended our family by bringing members of their family down with them to enjoy the festivities. Wanda Ballou-Rogel had her sister along with a friend make the trip to see the kite festival for the first time. Eddie Zihlman’s wife, Pat, along with Pat’s sister were along for the fun, as well as Mike Swaim’s mother and Dano Wright’s daughter. Cassie Shook brought along her boyfriend to meet her kite family. It’s always great to welcome new faces to our kiting family.

Walt Mitchell, along with his wife, made the long journey south, which we were glad he did so we would get to see his AKA Nationals award-winning kite that even got the people’s choice award at the recent convention. It’s a beauty!! Our Austin family, Austin End of the Line kite team, (Eddie, Ben Gray, Jim Cox, and Michael Boswell) decided to come south to compete for the first time in a long while. It’s always a family reunion when we get to spend time with them.

They were the team that gave Team SPI our start over ten years ago, which means they’ve been going even longer than us. What a great group of kiters.

Saturday morning started a bit chilly, but the sun was bright and there was not a cloud in the sky. As the day went on, we all began peeling off layers of clothing as the temperature rose to the upper 70s. The wind stayed out of the northwest most of the day, which meant the audience saw the back of kites all day, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone. They all brought their lawn chairs and lined them up around the ropes and enjoyed soaking up the rays, listening to the music, and watching the performances.

The single-line fields began launching their displays, and the sky became festive with a variety of colors and shapes. Banners and ground bouncers were added around the fields. Some of the kite wranglers during the festival were Sis and Dick Vogel, Dano and Natasha Wright, Walt Mitchell, Guy Blatnik, Bill Doan, Kitty and Bill Seward, and even Jeff and I were able to anchor off a few kites for display. There were new booths added for the spectators to enjoy. The Sea Turtle, Inc., from South Padre Island had a booth to share information about their efforts in saving the turtles in our area. The Laguna Madre Humane Society had a booth and ran a dog adoption throughout the festival. We’re happy to report that Gonzo found a home with a lucky family during the festival.

The first activity on the performance field was the sport kite competition. Guy, Jeff, and I were the designated judges for the day. Wanda was volunteered as the field director. Sis was coerced into being our announcer through the competition. She may have found her new calling. The competitors for the day were Bill Seward, Ben Gray, TeeCee Cornell, and Austin End of the Line kite team. Team EOL was sporting a new look at this year’s festival. They were the sharp-dressed men of the kiting world with their new shirts. Eddie has always said, “We may not fly great, but we sure look good.” They did look good, and they flew great too. They also had some great looking new kites from their sponsor Skyburner Kites.

After competition ended, the fun began with everyone having the chance to fly demos. Team SPI, (Jeff and I, Guy, and Bill), flew our dual-line and quad-line routines. Austin EOL showed off their new kites for everyone. TeeCee entertained with his Jimmy Buffett tunes. Deontae Boswell rocked the audience with his flying. Katee Gray had a blast with the Blast. Just as everyone was getting into the flying, Mother Nature decided it was time to bring the first day to an end. The wind died around 3 p.m., so we started packing our things away.

Jeff managed to go out, along with TeeCee on the microphone, and do a trick demonstration for everyone to end the day.

That evening we all gathered at Boomerang Billy’s Beach Bar for pizza and libations. Lots of smiles, red faces, and tired bodies sat and enjoyed the evening and the ocean breezes. Team EOL got out their kites and added some lights that team member Jim engineered and went out to do some night beach flying. It was awesome. Even the beach cop pulled up in his truck to get a closer look. We just knew we were in trouble. He asked if we were trying to scare people with UFOs. He was very impressed with the show. We were all glad that this was the night to set our clocks back an hour. We really needed the extra sleep. We headed back to our hotel for a little relaxation in the hot tub to soothe our sore muscles.

Even though we got the extra hour of sleep, I found it very hard to get up and get moving Sunday morning. It can’t be old age. It must have been all the fun that did me in. As we got to the field, we realized that several flyers had left early that morning because of long journeys home and work schedules. Others would be leaving midday. So we knew we would need to be flying as much as possible. I knew I would be needing the hot tub more than ever after this day.

The temperature was much warmer to start this morning off. The skys were clear and sunny. It was going to be another beautiful day. The wind was up and down as it tried to switch directions, but it never stayed down too long. We were always able to run out to relaunch anything that made it to the ground.

Bill Seward performed his dual-line and quad-line routines throughout the day as well as Team SPI. Jeff and I quickly relearned our pairs quad routine and were able to get through it. Our memories just aren’t what they used to be. Mike Swaim brought his KAP kit onto the field to demonstrate and give the audience a close look at how it worked.

There were free kites for the kids throughout the festival along with drawings for free kites. The big kite raffle winner of the cody kite was Sis Vogel. Team SPI flew the last performance of the day, and then it was time to pack it all away. Jeff and I are usually one of the last people to get everything packed up.

We just have too many toys we want to drag out and share. Even though we were extremely tired, sunburned, and sore, if you asked us to do it again the next day, we’d jump at the opportunity. It’s a good tired, one that you know you really enjoyed getting to. But it’s good to know that we have a month to recuperate before our next kiting event. Hope to see you soon at a festival somewhere.

Donna McCown