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This past weekend was the 31st Carolina Kite Festival at the Sands Villa Resort in Atlantic Beach, NC.  This festival is sponsored by my local kite shop, Kites Unlimited & Bird Stuff, Etc., also found in Atlantic Beach, NC.  We had no idea how this one would be attended as Hurricane Florence hit us hard and many people are out of work and out of their homes.  Also, many of the hotels and condo units were damaged which made accommodations in the area harder to find.  But it didn’t deter most of our regular out-of-town flyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weekend started with very high winds and chilly temperatures.  It rained the Friday before and was cloudy most of the day Saturday.  The winds kept a lot of the attendees from flying their single line kites as no one wanted to have a broken kite.  Luckily, the winds were blowing steady down the beach which made it much better for the large kites to fly.  And there was a grand show of large kites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weatherman was both right and wrong about the weather on Sunday.  The sky cleared and the sun came out which warmed up the afternoon.  But the winds never let up, came across the buildings along the beach and became more turbulent.  Fewer big kites were flown.  But there were more people with their single line kites out on the field.

A couple of our special guests this year were Ray Wong and Randy Tom.  Both are makers of art kites and hail from California.  And both brought kites to be sold at the kite shop..  Photos of their kites are on the Kites Unlimited & Bird Stuff, Etc. Facebook page.

The Bay Area Sundowners Kite Team came from San Fransisco to perform both days.  They are always a joy to watch.  They perform routines flying stacks of thirteen hyperkites in red, white and blue.  Many spectators come year after year to see them perform.  Saturday’s wind was a little too high but they gave it a try anyway and did a good job.  The slighter winds on Sunday were better and the team flew a couple different routines throughout the day.

On the third kite field, the stunt kites were flown.  Dual line and quad line stunt kites were in the air as the wind and the whim of the flyers allowed.  Along with all the flying, there was a kids’ kite building table for children to decorate and assemble a small sled kite and a candy drop from a high-flying delta kite.  A few brave souls even went out on the beach Saturday night to fly their kites with lights on them.  I emphasize “brave” as it was very cold after the sun went down.

Although it seems that I spent most of my time running around with my camera photographing the event, I did get to fly a couple of my single line kites, a friend’s quad line kite and visit with kite flyers I hadn’t seen in quite some time.  The festival was deemed a success and plans are already in the works for next year’s event.  For more pictures and some video from the festival, check out the Kites Unlimited & Bird Stuff, Etc. Facebook page (Kites Unlimited & Bird Stuff, Etc.).

Fair Winds All

Fort Macon State Park is open.  Although the fort itself is closed because of damage from Hurricane Florence.  The early report concerning the weekly community kite fly was encouraging but we couldn’t verify the information because we weren’t there.  Whereas kites are important, grandchildren are more important.  And our youngest granddaughter turned three.  There was no way we were going to miss the party.  As seems to be the rule, the day was perfect for kites and we were absent.  No doubt we will hear about it when we stop at the kite shop.

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The good news is the Carolina Kite Festival will go on as planned.  It will probably have a different “feel” than other years because of the hurricane recovery.  We have no idea how many participants can or will come nor what kind of accommodations will be available.  But there will be color in the sky and camaraderie on the sand.  Of that we can be sure.

Fair Winds All

 

It’s been over two weeks since I’ve flown a kite.  I am feeling some withdrawal symptoms.  That may sound strange to some people.  But flying kites brings relaxation and a sense of accomplishment.  Relaxation from watching the single line kites floating in the sky and accomplishment from improving on my control of a stunt kite.  And when the weather is good, the wind is right and you don’t get out to the kite field, the days seem wasted.

After not flying for a while, it is dangerous to walk into a kite shop.  There is inevitably a kite that is new and begging to be flown.  And it is sure to be a kite you’ve been debating about buying for a few weeks.  The end result is an addition to the kite bag, a show kite for special occasions and festivals.

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Dia de los Muertos Skeleton Kite by Premier

 

 

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After some discussion, we decided to broaden our scope and travel a little further to attend some kiting activities.  From what I had seen online, Kitemania South seemed like just the gathering we would enjoy and it wasn’t too far to drive.  So plans were made and off we went to Treasure Island, FL.

We arrived a day early in order to get our bearings and a little rest after the two-day drive.  I did get out on the beach for some flying.  Winds were light and gusty and the temperature was cooler than it should be.  But I did get up a couple of kites.  I was especially pleased that my mini-circoflex flew.  I hadn’t had it out of the bag in quite some time.  There were several other kite flyers taking advantage of the day.  Several deltas and couple of large flowforms were in the sky also.

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Saturday started out promising.  I got out early and flew my Dream stack.  It took a little work to find enough wind and I ended up quite a ways down the beach from our hotel.  Like most resort beaches, the high-rise hotels and condos block any wind not coming off the ocean.  It was a satisfying start to the weekend.  Then the gray clouds moved in.  Of course, the lack of sunshine does not stop kite flyers from doing their thing.  Canopies were erected, banners set out and the kite flying began.

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Unfortunately,  the day did not continue in this fashion.  Along with the colder temperatures came the rain.  For most of the morning, the flyers huddled under the canopies, coming out to fly in between showers.  But eventually the rain won and we all retreated to the covered patios to visit and exchange “feathers”.

Ah, yes, the “feathers”.  An activity that was unique to this gathering is the exchange of “feathers”.  Those attending this gathering create feathers out of ripstop nylon, tyvek, fabric, paper or anything that is at hand.  The feathers are then traded as the weekend goes on.  The trading brings old friends together and gets everyone actively involved in meeting new people.  It almost becomes a competition to get as many feathers as possible from as many people as possible.  The range of creativity is amazing.  The feathers are sewn, glued, painted, dyed, printed and colored with markers.  And are made in all shapes and sizes.  A couple were even made out of actual feathers.  Each feather has a story and will trigger memories of this gathering for a long time to come.

I made what I felt was a distinctly North Carolina feather, the Hatteras Lighthouse.

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Then, after trading all weekend, I came home with around forty new feathers.  And I’m already thinking about what I’ll be making for next year.

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Thankfully, the rain stopped in the evening and there was some night flying.  This included a ghost delta and some other deltas of varying sizes with programmable LEDs.  They were beautiful.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any decent images.  Just blurs of color in a black sky.

Sunday was windy.  Very, very windy.  Most of the kite flyers didn’t bring kites out because the wind was too strong.  Us included.  So the day was spent visiting and making the let of the feather trades.  There were flyers who had kites that could handle the wind so all was not lost.


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It was truly an enjoyable trip.  We are planning on going back next year.  And staying an extra day to get in some more flying and visiting.  Here’s hoping the weather is more Florida-like than this year.  That is sunny, warm and dry.

Fair Winds All.

Our long and very pleasant stay with our daughter, grandson and very new granddaughter has come to an end.  We were sent home and told under no circumstances were we to miss the Carolina Kite Festival in Atlantic Beach, NC.  Our kite flying hiatus has come to an end in a very big way.  Two days of endless kite flying, old kiting friendships renewed and new kiting friendships made.

The Carolina Kite Festival was held this past weekend.  The temperatures were perfect and the winds were obliging most of the time.  Saturday’s winds were perfect in range though a little gusty.  Large inflatable kites were flying at one end of the beach all day.  There were mass ascensions of many types of kites and performances by the kiting celebrity guests and some local talent.

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The Bay Area Sundowners, a stunt kite performance team from San Francisco, CA, flew several routines with their trains of Hyperkites.  They are regular guests at the festival and people look forward to seeing them each year.  Big Al Sparling, another regular from Chicago, IL, came and flew the big kites.  The kids attending the festival decorated and flew small sled kites.  “Purple”, the pink playsail, made an appearance and was a hit.  And, of course, so was the candy drop.  The one of the highlights of the day was the flying of the ribbon kite.  This kite is 440 feet long and is the largest ribbon kite in the world.  It is handcrafted by Randy Tom, an internationally known kite maker.  A new guest to the festival was Dodd Gross,  a kite designer and a champion stunt kite flyer.  He gave stunt kite demonstrations and seminars.  Representatives from two kite companies were in attendance, Jim Christianson of Skydog Kites and Chris Schultz of HQ Kites.  Both flew kites from their respective companies.  It was a busy, busy day.  Lots of folks came to see the kites and many brought their own kites and joined in on the fun.  That was the key word for the day, FUN!

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Dodd Gross and the Low Wind Kiting Seminar

Dodd Gross and the Low Wind Kiting Seminar Attendees

Sunday started out a little disappointing.  There was no wind at all.  The ocean was glassy and the skies were partly cloudy.  Thankfully, kite flyers are an enterprising group and several got out their fighting kites and demonstrated how to fly with no wind.  Yes, it is possible.  As the morning went on, there came a breath of wind and we got the low wind kites out of the bags and put them in the air.  By noon, the winds had increased and become steady.  A perfect day for kites.

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Ribbon Kite

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Sundowners

Bay Area Sundowners

The big kites went up and the mass ascensions and performances began.  Two mass ascensions of note were the Sky Skimmers and the Kites Unlimited Revolutions.  Both of these kites are only available at Kites Unlimited kite shop in Atlantic Beach, NC.  The Sky Skimmers are made by Jeri Dixon, one of the owners of the shop.  The special black and white Revolution kite pattern are made specifically for the Kites Unlimited shop by Revolution Kites.  I should mention too that the Hyperkites the Sundowners flew are also only available at Kites Unlimited.  This is starting to sound like a commercial but I can’t help it.  Kites Unlimited is my favorite kite store and the main sponsor of the Carolina Kite Festival.  I hang out there way too much.

I did something at this festival that I had never done before.  I got out in the performance field and flew for the audience.  The wind had come up in the afternoon and was blowing steady down the beach.  I trained my two Kites Unlimited Revolutions, one full sail and one vented sail, and flew to some music that was playing at the time.  It was a spur of the moment thing and went pretty well.  It went so well I dug out some music of my own choosing and flew my progressive “Dream” stack.  I trained my Dream On stunt kite and my Little Dreamer stunt kite, both designed by Dodd Gross and sold by Skydog, and flew them to the song “Time In A Bottle” by Jim Croce.  I lost the wind once on a low pass but put them back up and finished the music.  It was fun and I think I’ll do it again sometime.  Maybe with a little more practice beforehand.

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So how do I sum up the weekend?  Long days, tiring but fun, Fun, FUN!!!!!  And that’s what kite flying is all about.

Fair Winds All.

 

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