November 1, 2005
The Carolina Kite Festival

This comfortable festival in Atlantic Beach is small enough to feel like family, but big enough to offer something for everyone. For eighteen years, the good folks at Kites Unlimited have been inviting kiters to the Carolina Shore, and with the exception of some fairly light breezes, our visit this year was one of the best.

The beach is actually bigger now. The site felt a bit constricted before, but with an extra fifty feet of sand deposited late last season, there was room for sport kites, demonstrations, and a fine collection of larger kites. A cloudless blue sky and breezes blowing straight toward the surf made for beautiful flying.

Local talent always provides the backbone of an event, but special guests get the headlines. The Bay Area Sundowners with Randy Tom and Ray Wong are regulars. Al Sparling, Mike Agner, Susan Gomberg and Jim Martin wrangled big kites. And I spent much of the weekend on the microphone.

Kids on the Field

The Sundowners are perennial favorites in Atlantic Beach. Ken Osterlund, Gordon Osterlund, Craig Wong, and Randy Tom did ballet demos, flying four hyperkite stacks. The Sundowners often fly with six members but no one seemed to notice that the "big show" was a bit smaller this time.


Down at the big kite field, the fliers got a work-out. Through the two day festival, they launched an Octopus, Gecko, Fish, Trilobite, Manta Ray, Cat, Diver, and Giant Spikey Balls. Winds coming over the dunes were a bit gusty at times, but that just mean more action with the kites closer to the ground and pilots up high in the steadier winds.

Big Kites Big Kites Big Kites

Big Kites Big Kites Big Kites

In the main area, mass ascensions were scheduled at half hour intervals. Groups of deltas, roks, boxes went up, followed by "critters" and "art kites".

Art Kites Art Kites Art Kites

We also ran a series of Bol Races to wear out the local kids. For those of you not familiar with the "Running of the Bols", we strap children into ten foot rotating baskets and invite them to race upwind. It is a slow-motion steeplechase in soft sand but the kids line up for the chance to run again and again.

Carolina Kite Fest

Free kitemaking was also on the schedule each day, and a popular candy drop. When winds disappeared at the appointed hour, organizers used a large sling-shot to propel the candy into the air. I shared the mic with host Don Dixon on both days. And here is a rare photo of Susie flying a sport kite.

Carolina Kite Fest Carolina Kite Fest Carolina Kite Fest Carolina Kite Fest

Monday we drove back to the airport and began inching our way across the country toward home. We don't have any new kite travel scheduled until December but there is plenty of work to be done in the 'corporate offices". New designs are arriving weekly and we have two trade shows looming.

Check back next week for more news and a few surprises.

Fish Tails! Here's a wacky new accessory from Charlie Watson in New Zealand -- Flying Fish Tails!

The smaller version is two feet and the larger one a hefty five feet. Choose solid colors or stripes. Your cost is just $15 and $30 respectively.

Fish Tails
Fish Tails

Hang them from a flying line, a kite or a pole. The fantail shape billows out to create an unmistakable impression. All that is missing is the smell....

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