Issue 77: Lincoln City Indoor Festival 2011

“Oh, My… How I DO love the power and majesty of Nature here in the Pacific Northwest…”

I was standing on the balcony of a condominium unit in Gleneden Beach, OR – just south of Lincoln City, Oregon when I think this.. Or rather, our guest, Nelson Borelli, had just commented on how “Fantastic!” it was to be there… so I questioned him about it. Was it the “Lincoln City Indoor Kite Festival” that he was referring to, or perhaps the furnishings and amenities in the condominium? Nope, he replied. He was just very much enjoying the sights, including the vista of the Pacific Ocean laid out before us… Well, I couldn’t help but agree – we were looking at some pretty awesome stuff!

Let me back up a bit. Scott Weider and I had just returned from a two month odyssey of close to 10,000 miles – starting the 24th of January when I picked Scott up at Portland International Airport, or “PDX” as it is know around Portland. We’d headed south on Interstate 5, and turned east on I-10 just below Bakersfield, CA. We’d wended our way down to South Padre Island, Texas for the SPI Kite Festival the first weekend in February. After a weekend with Bill and Susie Doan (and about 50 of their, and our, closest kite friends) plus several thousand onlookers in the freezing cold that was South Padre Island, we made our way up to Houston to I-10 again, still heading east.

When we reached the Florida panhandle, we cut south at Pensacola, and followed the Gulf of Mexico coastline all the way east and around south to Clearwater, and into the Tampa / St. Petersburg area – where we had a house waiting for us in Madeira Beach on the barrier island fronting Tampa Bay. For a month, our program was to loaf, eat, sleep, fly kites, and go wandering – including trips down to Port Charlotte and over to Orlando, gone visiting some folks Scott knew! But we mostly just hung around that 3-5 mile stretch of white sand beach. Yeah – pretty “awesome” (that word again). In a month, I think we had one overnight rain squall that dropped a little over an inch of rain.

Other than that, it was clear, sunny skies every day with temps from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit all the time. Coming “home” to Vancouver, WA (just across the Columbia River from Portland, OR) meant driving the very same route in reverse, only skipping some of the “frills” (South Padre Island, and some of the Florida Gulf Coast stops, etc.) along the way.

We arrived back in Vancouver, WA on the 23rd of March, in time to pick Senor Borelli up at PDX on the morning of the 24th and then put us all on the road to the Lincoln City Indoor Kite Festival. So there we stood on the condominium balcony at Gleneden Beach, OR on the 24th of March – all ready for the L/C Indoor Kite Fest to start again! (Me? I’d actually been home for a total of about eighteen hours in the last two months.)

Of course, we were into Lincoln City a day early – so Friday, the 25th, was the event’s “setup” day – meaning there wasn’t really all that much to do until late afternoon, when all of the folks gathered to have their first introduction to this year’s fine-art “show” kite offering. So we slept in… We worked a bit on the laundry we’d not finished in our abbreviated “home-stay.” We went to Taft High School in the afternoon so Scott could find out if he still knew how to fly an Indoor Rev (turns out that he DID remember how).

And we watched the “techies” create the “stage” again. Lights came in and were installed. Ditto for the Sound System. They brought in the “scissor” cart, and we got to observe Debbie Park ride the thing to the rafters, and hang (a) the backdrop, and (b) install all of her “tissue” equipment.

And then, Lee Park gathered all of the kite fliers and explained the show’s “concept” to them and began to lay out the different scenes they’d envisioned.

Normally, anyone walking in on this mob would think all these folks were just plain whacko to expect that this discussion could, and would, lead to a full-blown “theatrical presentation,” professionally performed right out of the box, the next day. And they’d probably be correct. Twice the next day, to be exact!

With a couple of “fun” AKA Indoor Comps thrown in between the two performances, too. Still, everyone there had been through precisely this “build it” exercise with the Parks at least once before, and most of them had done it several times. They all just knew first-hand that it could be – and would be – accomplished, and they all expected nothing less! So while those kite pilots do not view themselves as “pros” – they most assuredly are!

The Show: Lee and Debbie of Aerial Experience always try to do something “creative” with this Lincoln City production – something a bit “artsy,” if you will. They called this version of the show “Reflections.” One of the accepted noteworthy “events” of the last year included the death of Michael Jackson – the “King of Pop!”

So much of the music for this year’s production would come from him. I frankly admit that I had not followed Michael’s career, so I cannot attest to the source of the music one way or another. Still, the name, and the concept, were mentioned several times.

But from what I gathered from Lee’s introduction to the show’s “concept,” Lee wanted to use what he (and “we”) had seen in the last year in terms of society generally sliding into “chaos” (which was also a word mentioned several times). Lee and Debbie wanted to use the show to imply that we (our country? or maybe our civilization?) could bring our world out of this “chaos” and back into something like order or sanity or success or pleasure…

If only we could see all of the beauty still around us – and maybe even create some ourselves. (Well – that’s probably a terrible approximation of what the Parks actually intended, but that’s what I got from listening to their introduction anyway.)

I, however, was a mere “bystander”… a not very dedicated, NON-participant… so I tried to find other things to do while the kite-flying cast discussed “the concept.” I finally gave that attempt up, so Nelson Borelli and Theresa and I all went back to the condo for a glass of wine or an aperitif – and left those kite-flying “pros” in the hands of the “experts” – Lee and Debbie Park, who were building a show in the gym back at Taft High School.

Once at the condominium, Theresa did some “kitchen” things, so that when all of those fancy-dancy “fliers” returned, there would be food in abundance. Then, after they arrived and we ate and washed up, we all went to our beds. Tomorrow would be a busy day for everyone. So much for Friday…

Saturday saw everyone dragging themselves out of bed and heading for the High School early. The gym was open at 8:00 AM, and practice-time before the first show would be a precious commodity. As usual, I had Scotty Weider with me, though Senor Borelli chose to ride the much more comfortable “heated” seats in Theresa’s Escalade instead.

Of course, this being the Pacific Northwest, it was overcast and raining on and off. But Nelson thought it was all wonderful. He talked with his family back in Northern Illinois, who guessed it might possibly get close to 30 degrees Fahrenheit today!

My own thinking was that I hoped that the inclement weather wouldn’t dissuade anyone in the potential audience. I guess that’s always a dicey proposition. I can never tell if people come to indoor kite events to avoid the crappy weather – or if they stay in their homes and lodgings and don’t even bother to go outside at all because of the miserable stuff.

Anyway – we all went to the High School as planned. Theresa would sell kites. Sir Weider would fly kites. Senor Borelli would demonstrate his own kites, and then teach people how to build them. And I would do my usual “festival” routine… wander, drink a little coffee, yack with the folks, shoot photos of the event, and try to stay decidedly “low-key” and out of the way of everyone else. Mostly, we were all pretty darned successful.

It turns out that I also had a specific assignment this year, though a self-assigned one. I would bring coffee to selected participants.

So immediately after dropping Scotty off, I did a quick poll, got names and selections, and then headed out to Starbucks to make sure we got coffee for everyone. And when I returned and made my deliveries, we were already into the planned program for the day. The kiting folks were busy flying individual “demos” for the crowd, others were getting into costumes and readying their kites, for the show while others were waiting – observing – and ahead of the game. Everything pointed toward “the SHOW” that started in early afternoon. So I got out the camera and did my “checks” too – and all efforts (mine and others) appeared to start funneling toward “the SHOW!”

“The SHOW (Reflections)” went off without a hitch, which did NOT surprise me. These pilots are amazing. Once the concept is fully explained and walked through once, they are “good to go” as they say. If you wish a hint regarding what you could observe here, the “Chaos” referred to earlier is manifested in the pilot’s attire. The fellow in the “All White” costume (Jeff Reed – a superb fighter-kite pilot) which Lee Park dubbed “The Oracle,” is searching for any sign of “light” – meaning joy, creativity, freedom, fun, serendipity, delight. The rest of the cast, mostly in all black attire, represent the “Chaos” of hum-drum lives, locked into going nowhere, sliding into an abyss of “nothing works right.” And as “the show” progresses, more and more “Color” begins to appear onstage, and the music gets more inspiring, and the cast begins to smile, and wake up, and find freedom and pleasure.

By the end of the show, all the cast members are wearing white shirts and smiling. Oh, I cannot begin to walk you through all the moves and flight patterns in all of the scenes, or remember any of the music either, except to say I found that the feelings and emotions originally mapped out by the Parks in Lee’s introduction were exactly the ones that I (personally) felt at the appropriate spots during the show’s performance. No, I don’t know how they did it – but it’s true nonetheless.

The cast performed “the Show” three times. I watched all three performances.

I was pleased with the way the first one came off, amazed that the second showing was better than the first, and delighted when the last show was the best of the lot. Part of it was the fliers’ familiarity with the routines, and my own familiarity with those same routines, of course – but that was only “some of it.” I think what I experienced as much as anything was the change in everyone – especially in the cast – from the first one being almost “work” to the last one nearly being a “creative release” for the fliers. It was truly kind of an amazing event to observe. Did I “like” – perhaps even “enjoy” the show – “Reflections?” Oh YES, very much. And it feels even better now, with a week’s time-distance to use to consider the question. Yes, it was a fine production this year.

Congratulations to all concerned, starting with the Lincoln City Visitors and Conventions Bureau (specifically including our Marvelous Maggie Conrad friend), including the school system and all of the event sponsors and all of vendors and even the tour groups that came and watched. Yes, to Bob and Donna Wendt our able announcer/sound crew too. BRAVO to you all!

If you’re a Kitelife subscriber, you can click here to actually download and view the entire show (Sunday’s rendition) through the Kitelife downloads section… It’s a big file (1.2GB), but a very entertaining video and good example of an organized show.

Oh, so that was all the Lincoln City Indoor Kite Festival, right? Well… Uh, not exactly! Indeed, that was about half of it – but the “other” half was pretty darned good too. So I will now trip lightly through the rest of the program so you can see what ELSE you missed!

Our friend Nelson Borelli was not in Lincoln City by accident this year – he asked to come, feeling that L/C was a place with a “different kind” of event (which is certainly true), and thinking that it might be a place where kiting “shows” (as in “performances”) are more highly regarded than some of the other indoor festivals. I believe that to be true as well.

In any case, Dr. Borelli put on a “show” of his own – using his self-made fighter kites, and flying to four pieces of Baroque music in a program he called “Transcendence.” The music Nelson used was written in the 15th, 16th, 18th and 20th centuries, and Nelson choreographed his kites’ movements to each piece.

The movements used were:

Tenebrae Responsories by de Victoria
Concert for Oboe and Strings, Adaggio by Marcello
Meditation, from the Opera “Thais” by Massenet
Adagio For Strings by Barber

After an appreciative round of applause following his “Transcendence” program, Nelson changed out of his “performance” clothes and went directly to the High School’s “Commons” area where he taught roughly a dozen people how to construct a Borelli Fighter of their own.

Then there are the events one would “expect” at any other Indoor Kite Festival. Saturday saw the running of both the “Mystery Ballet” and the “Hot Tricks” competitions – sandwiched in between the performances of “the Show – Reflections.” Both “Hot Tricks” and “Mystery Ballet” are for-fun events rather than true AKA judged events for points.

In Mystery Ballet, the pilot takes to the floor with his kite(s). The sound crew selects a “mystery” piece from a CD that the pilot does not necessarily know…

When the music starts, the pilot must fly to the piece, doing his own kite choreography while the music plays. Each pilot is judged, and the pilot with the highest score wins. This year, Spencer Watson won L/C Indoor’s “Mystery Ballet.”

In Hot Tricks, two pilots square off.

One is designated #1 and the other pilot is #2. The sound Crew starts a CD track containing three minutes of music. Pilot #1 flies for 30 seconds before he/she hands off flight to Pilot #2.

The event’s judges are the other contestants entered in the Hot Trick Competition. The two pilots alternate flight until each pilot has flown three thirty-second segments of music. The “contest” between the pilots is to determine who is the best overall “kite trickster,” and each paring generates a “winner” and someone who “sits down.” Yup – “Single Elimination.” At the end, there is only one winner, as determined by all the rest of the pilots in the competition. This year, Spencer Watson won L/C Indoor’s “Hot Tricks” Competition too! Watty, this is beginning to get BORING!!!

But eventually, we run out of all this “fun” for one day, so everyone grabbed their registration packet and we all head out for Saturday Night dinner at the Chinook Winds Casino at the North end of town. “The Casino” is one of the perpetual GREAT sponsors of kite flying in the Northwest, and they are well loved by the pilots, and by the rest of us “hangers-on” too. The food is good, wholesome, and filling, and the accommodations in the Buffet area are excellent.

Yes, it was an awfully full day. Yes, we made it through without trouble.

Of course, the weather was nasty outside… What did we expect in March in the Northwest? (And – THAT’s why we fly Indoors during the winter – in case anyone’s forgotten!)

Sunday found us facing another wet day. Fortunately, we didn’t have too much going on this morning, so Nelson Borelli made breakfast for all of us. GOOD STUFF too… a kind of frittata, with eggs and potatoes and some meats and veggies and cheese. He called it something I can still pronounce easily, but I cannot spell it correctly in his Spanish spelling, so I can’t get the letters right.

But Nelson pronounces it “Tor-TEA-dja.” Anyway, we all pronounced it “good stuff!”

Then it was off to Taft High School again, and more free-fly, practice, and demo flying. The first real commitment on the schedule was the Indoor Comps, followed by the last performance of “the Show – Reflections.” So I dropped Scott off to go judge the Indoor Comps and headed out to Starbucks again – something to fulfill my duty to my friends (and to grab a cup for myself too, of course).

So, the first thing in the morning was the AKA Sanctioned Indoor Competition and demonstrations… Here are three of the demos we’ve managed to capture on video:

“The Comp” is normally on Sunday morning’s schedule for the Lincoln City Indoor Kite Festival. In this event, each pilot flies to his own choice of music. A panel of Judges scores each pilot’s performance based on the AKA Rulebook criteria for Indoor Comps. In L/C, the organizers (Maggie Conrad, I suppose) chose to break the field of pilots into their respective “levels” – in this case, either “Experienced” level or “Masters” level. The rankings would not be announced until the “Awards Presentation” in the afternoon, as the “last item” of business for this festival.

After everyone had flown their comps, it was back to “Reflections” time until the end of the day when the scorers had computed everything out, and put together the “awards” list. For L/C Indoor Kite Festival this year, the top three pilots in each category/level were:




3rd[/fourcol_one] [fourcol_one]Masters Level

Toby Arndt

Spencer Watson

Paul DeBakker[/fourcol_one] [fourcol_one]Experienced Level

Jeff Reed

Dick Curran

Phil Burks[/fourcol_one][fourcol_one_last][/fourcol_one_last][hr/]

Finally it was time for the last installment of “Reflection” – which went off without a single hitch! You’d think all of these people had been “born” precisely to fly this show, somehow. Yes, I certainly think this production is good enough that I am a bit sad to see it go, and I wish somehow that the script, and the performance itself, could continue on and be flown often – and even get “embellished” somehow.

Then, everyone began the tough job of tearing down and packing up and saying “goodbye.” Well, if you weren’t there, you probably missed that part right along with the rest of it – right? Still, for those of us who were there, it was certainly a difficult chore… The Lincoln City Indoor Kite Festival is one of those few affairs where “leaving” is hard. The L/C Indoor this year was one of those events that nobody quite wanted to be over… Yeah, it just felt about THAT good!

Still, we had a little time left in Lincoln City. So after we all packed up and finally got outa Taft High School – we were all headed for “Mo’s” – which is the Northwest version of an East Coast “Crab Shack.” Burgers, Pasta, Crab Cakes, Oysters (Stewed, Raw, Grilled, or Baked), Halibut and Cod, Salads, and Newbergs, and so forth…

Well, what about next year? I dunno about that either. You can hear about any flavor of story there is in that regard. But I can tell you THIS for sure…

Whatever happened at Lincoln City this year is not repeatable. Every year, the festival I have attended is considerably different from the festivals every other year before it, so there’s nothing that indicates or predicts a similar situation to be occurring or even existing next year.

It’s “Wait and See” time, I guess… All right, I can live with that!

In the meantime, would someone pull these dang-it clouds away? We’re about into July or August with our annual allotment of Rainfall, here. We’re also about 10 degrees Fahrenheit too low in temperature average, too. I only ask this because I have some kites I’d like to fly. (I know the folks in New England who are with me on this sentiment too, right?)

Anyway, see ya on a beach somewhere soon?

Fair Winds and Good Friends –