May 25
The Beaches of Grand Haven

Over the past few years, we've grown used to changing flying conditions at the Great Lakes Kite Festival in Grand Haven, Michigan. One year, we actually dug in sand anchors all around the perimiter of the field and then adjusted big kites from place to place as winds shifted.

This year we got more variety than usual.

Friday we took gusts and turbulence as the wind came over the sand bluffs and spilled onto the field. Saturday, there was sunshine and occasional puffs that let us almost get launched. Sunday morning we had rain. And then Sunday afternoon, the sky cleared and the flying was perfect.

Slow Liftoff

Lee and Sam

Each year, we share a beach house with Al Sparling, Sam and Ann Ritter, and with Lee and Sue Sedgwick.

Losing Sue to cancer just two weeks ago had a profound affect on so many of us in the kite world. Her positive spirit, zest for life, and the joy and innovation she brought to the field are a heart wrenching loss. But more than a flier, more than an inspiration, she was a dear, dear friend. Sue had never missed a Grand Haven and the festival was dedicated to her many wonderful performances there.

It was good to spend time with Lee, and to be strengthened by his courage and positive outlook.

Grand Haven is not a huge event. But it has evolved into a showcase for the variety that kiting offers.

Rev Fly Rev Fly Rev Fly

On the main performance field, teams, pairs, and individual multi-line performers take turns flying for the large crowds. A favorite are the big stacks of Revolutions flown to music or used for dropping candy on children.

Festival Events Festival Events Festival Events

We enjoyed championship team flying from Chicago Fire, aerial dog-fights with inflatable airplanes, and a few yards away, kite surfers skidded across the chilly lake surface.

Student Driver Student Driver Student Driver Student Driver

The 'Learn to Fly" field offered lessons and instructions from several leading manufacturers. New enthusiasts quickly picked up the basics and then moved down the beach to practice -- usually with a bit of help from Dad.

Fish Fly Fish Fly Fish Fly

On the big kite field, we lofted Gecko, Manta, Octopus, Fish and Turtles. Al and Darryl Waters made the cover of three different regional papers. Susie and I aired out a new mid-sized Fish, designed to match the larger model, and then stacked it up with a color-coordinated Turtle.

Throughout the course of the weekend, Fighter Fliers ran competitions at the edge of the parking lot.


For those not familiar with one-line maneuverable kites, they are manipulated by the pilot by letting out or drawing in flying line to turn or move the kite. In many cultures, powdered glass is applied to the line to try and cut an opponent. Here in the States, we prefer at sophisticated contest of "tag".

Changing flying conditions required a variety of flying skills and kites as we went from no wind to strong wind, to wet wind, to puffy light wind. Luck of the draw and timing may have affected the outcome of the match, but ability to maneuver these fast and fascinating kites was the real determinant of the winner.

Friday night, the festival shifted to a local gymnasium for a well attended indoor fly. Performers withy ultra-efficient kites were able to fly with no wind by smoothly backing up and drawing the kites behind them.

Indoor Fly Indoor Fly Indoor Fly

The idea of flying a kite without wind baffles most people who have never seen such a show. But the crowd was definitely impressed with the musical air-ballet and exhibitions.

At the edge of the flying fields, organizer Mackinaw Kites erected a huge tent filled with kites and toys and flying accessories.

For the three days of the festival, this is one of the largest kite stores in the country. Manufacturers send representatives to showcase their product. Offerings include a multi-line pro-shop, kite surf instruction, a close-out sale arena, and a plethora of single-line fliers.

In the back of the tent space is allocated for the Children's Leukemia Foundation to raise funds.

Store Tent

Record Attempt

New this year was an effort by Mix McGraw of Denver to set a new record by flying the longest train of dual line kites. The record is currently at 250 kites and Mix was aiming for 275.

Rules require a complete loop to the left and right, together with four minutes of controlled flight.

Mix made a number of attempts but was never able to complete the required loops. Each time, his wide circles brought the stack crashing to the sand. Maybe next time, Mix...

After a fine meal Sunday night, Susie and I grabbed a few hours sleep and then headed for the airport in Grand Rapids and the sojourn home. We bid our friends good bye, knowing we'd see most of them in just three days in Wildwood, New Jersey. That's the crazy and wonderful thing about this kite life.

So we're home for two days and then I'm off again. Meanwhile shipments keep arriving and we keep sending new treasures out to all of you. So keep those cards and letters coming, and please don't ask me to stuff anything more into my Wildwood bags.....

Madonnas!New designs continue to flow in from the Factory. The latest addition is an old favorite -- Giant Spiked Bols -- better known as "Madonnas".

We're now producing Madonnas in a 14 foot size and the price is an affordable $499. Choose from any of our ripstop colors and we'll make some up for you.

And as usual, to get things going, we'll take off 20% if you order between now and June 9.


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