September 17, 2008
The World Comes to Dieppe

Jammers

Every two years, the kite world converges on the small coastal city of Dieppe France. No event I know of can boast as many international guests, as many delegations, as much kite talent, and as much kiting to see.

This was Dieppe’s 15th festival. The flying zone is relatively small and the focus is on the national pavilions.

This makes Dieppe more of a kite exposition than a kite show. Each nation is given a space to set up displays which promote their own unique kite history, culture and traditions.

The result is an up-close look at all that our kite world has in common, and a celebration of our differences as well.

The full festival runs ten days covering two weekends. Here’s a brief look at some of the displays.

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Among the photos, you may have noticed the American Kitefliers Association. The official “Etats Unis” (United States) booth was over with the other delegations and featured three well-known kite artists. But through the years, we’ve found that general guests didn’t fit in well at the official tent. Kite clubs from across Europe had been given booths so I proposed a space for the AKA as well.

Negotiation took three years. But eventually we were given a great space where as many as fifteen kiters were based this time. They distributed magazines and displayed kites, maps and materials. The message was “warm greetings from North America”, and a chance to promote the AKA as an international body.

Historically, “self sponsored” fliers had trouble fitting in at Dieppe or gaining credentials to access the fields. So this general booth proved a convenient and comfortable home base for many first-time and returning kiters who were AKA members from a number of countries. Marla Miller did a great job coordinating the program.

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The Dieppe “fields” include a grassy plain at the edge of the city, a paved promenade, and then a wide, uneven pebbled beach. Larger kites are anchored on the beach, while delicate art pieces are flown on the grass. And with several hundred world-class kiters in attendance, the display is amazing.

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My favorites included the painted creations of Claudio Capelli and Robert Trapanier, Rolf Zimmerman’s inflatable Dragon, the huge flying Juke Box (complete with MP3 music!) by Gerard Clement, the Fish School of Robert VanWeers, the NorthWest Lattice Star of Willi Koch, and the Flying Traffic Signs of Kevin Sanders.

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Further down the beach, sport kite teams and fighter kite fliers provide continuous acrobatic shows and competitions.

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Fifteen bi-annual festivals in Dieppe means the event has a thirty year tradition. I’ve been pleased to attend nine times. And now in the odd-numbered years, a sister kite gathering is held in Dieppe, Canada.

As the kite world gathers in Dieppe, there is a great opportunity for all to share, compare, and learn. From South Africa to South Korea, or from Oz to Oregon, Dieppe has it all! As I said before, we have much in common and also many differences to celebrate. Sixty years ago, this beach was a field of battle. Now the same nations gather here as friends on a field of joy.

Did you notice the Red Meanie among all the kite photos?

He’s an international traveler now but tired of airport security and invasive baggage checks. Maybe he can come and live in your kite bag…

Susie and I leave Friday for the Family Fun Kite Day on Marina Green in San Francisco. Then we fly directly to the AKA convention in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

We’ll take the Meanie to AKA and put him in the FlyMart there. But if you email us before he is sold, we’ll take 25% off the normal $1100 price. Let us know and we can ship him or you can pick him up at Convention! We’ll extend the same deal to a Blue Meanie and a forty-five foot Red Gecko.

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