September 27
Kites Over Burlington

Kudos to Phil Broder.

For a year and a half, Phil's been working to bring kiting to the corner of Iowa he now calls home. He recruited the JC's as his primary sponsor, signed up the president of the City Council as his lead volunteer, and got money from every bank in town.

Fliers came from Chicago, St. Louis, Wisconsin, and Colorado. Isn't it great what one person can accomplish.

Phil called me a year ago and asked if I'd fly big kites at his first event. I wasn't even sure where Burlington was. But a year early, it's easy to say yes.

Last week, he called again to tell me the forecast was for 15-25 mph winds. He told me to bring anchors. "Can't we just use sandbags like we do here at the beach?" I joked.

Phil smiled and said something about rebar...

As the wind grew on Saturday, I had both a giant Octopus and a brand new giant Trilobite in the air. The "bite" was anchored on two pieces of rebar, driven about two feet into the Iowa sod. But as I was walking downfield to check on another kite, a gust popped the anchor strap off its metal anchors. The line, the strap and the brand new kite went flying past me.

For a moment, I considered running for the strap. But I quickly decided that me being dragged after the kite wasn't going to help the situation. So I stopped and watched as the kite and line cleared the eight foot Cyclone fence, the lawn, the street, and finally came gently to rest 1000 feet away in a freshly mowed corn field.

Nothing -- not kites, kiters, spectators, cars or buildings was anywhere in the flight or falling path. It was a bad situation that happened in the best way possible.

So we added a bit of drama to the event. Half an hour later, the kite was back in place and more securely anchored. Sorry we don't have any photos...

The Sport Kite event drew about thirty competitors, including four teams. That's more teams then Berkeley or Long Beach!

Events were run quickly and smoothly, leaving plenty of time for fun "contests' like the Quadline Obstacle Course and Big Muddy Mystery Ballet. Winds ranged from gusts of 25 or more, to dead calm.

Team Ballet was won by Chain Reaction (experienced), beating Wind Wizards (Masters). Pegasus (experienced) upset St Elmo's Fire (masters) in Pairs. Mike Delfar swept MIP and MIB. Steve Isenhower won Mystery Ballet, Nick Piacenza won the Quad Line Obstacle Challenge.

The single line field wasn't crowded, but that doesn't mean it was empty.

I was particularly impressed with the variety and quality of the kites flown by Mike Shaw of Colorado. Throughout the weekend, he graced the skies with roks, sodes, edos, and eddys featuring mostly Southwest appliquéd motifs. Mikes work has been featured in American Kite and in Kiting, but he is still one of the best kept secrets among America's kitemaking masters.

Here's the new Super Genki from Kevin Shannon at Carlisle Kiteworks. Susan says the photo makes me look short and fat, but the kite is a big 13 feet wide, so don't be fooled...

AKA Regional Representative Al Sparling made the trek from the Chicago Area. Seems there's hardly a festival in the mid-west he hasn't been at this year.

Why is Al smiling. Might be because he just stretched his arms out even longer with a pair of our ten foot baskets.

Al is going to see me again in Chicago next week and then drive me over to Muncie for the AKA Convention. Looks like I'll be seeing him more then Susie for the next two weeks.

BTW -- we're making some changes in the baskets and starting in November, we expect to be able to order and deliver custom colors within three weeks on the six and ten foot sizes.

Saturday was a most satisfying flying day. We finished up with a beautiful "cornfield sunset" and a hog-roast dinner. We were tired and hungry, and the food was - uh - appreciated.

The forecast for Sunday was winds of 25, gusting to 50, and scattered thunder storms. neither the wind not the rain showed up, but we stayed conservative thoughout the day and didn't get everything out of the bag.

Sunday night, Phil and I had a fine dinner on the banks of the Mississippi and I headed for home the next morning. Three days here and I head out again.

What a life!

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