Susie and I are just back from a weekend on the ice. In just two years, Kites on Ice in Madison Wisconsin has established itself as one of the premier kiting events in North America.
Don't just take my word for it. At the Saturday banquet, I overheard Roger Chewning talking with one of the primary sponsors. "We've been doing festivals for fifteen years." he said. "We do Wildwood and Maryland some of the other biggest events in the country. And you guys just blew right past us..."
What that means is that Madison had 50 of the top names in kiting, fully sponsored, from around North America and overseas.
- They had the giant kites of Jack Rogers, No Limit of Germany, Pierre Fabre of France, Anne Harris of England, and Yves LaForest of Canada.
- They had indoor displays and workshops featuring miniature kites, kite history, Fighter Kites, and kite art.
- They had three of the best sport kite demonstration teams - Chicago Fire, STAFF of Montreal, and the Decorators of England.
- They had kite artists including Michael Alvarez of Australia, Frank Schweiman of Germany, Jon Burkhardt, Ron Gibean, Jose Sainz, Robert Trepanier, Scott Skinner, and Charmayne Umbower.
- They had kite skiing.
- They had a thousand kids with their own kites for children's day.
- They had a night fly and fireworks.
- They had a wide, unobstructed field, right downtown, just four blocks from the State Capitol, and the largest crowds I've seen at a domestic kite event.
- And finally, they had a hook -- a unique angle. We were flying on a frozen lake, in the middle of winter.
How did Madison do it? Well, it helps to have a professional, full-time event management team doing the organizing. It helps to have a non-profit corporation in charge who specialize in bringing promotional events to town. It helps to have a great group of local volunteer fliers. It helps to be supporting a worthy cause -- the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation -- which is chaired by the governor's wife. And not coincidentally, it helps to have the governor on the filed, not just for a photo-op, but actually flying and attending the award banquet. Oh yes, and it helps to have thick ice...
Craig Wilson, a well-respected aerial photographer, thought up the idea of Kites on Ice after joining us on a trip to Berck France several years ago. He had the vision for the event and had the wherewithal to find supporters and make it happen. Everyone had a wonderful time and is anxious to come back.Click here for a short video clip.
Madison wasn't cold -- it was cool!