February 5
Kites on Ice is Cold but Nice!

Kite on Ice Panorama

Nice hell -- it is fantastic!! Out on the lake we have four major activities -- the art kites, the giant kites, sport kite shows, and kite skiing. Over a dozen countries are represented by 100 fliers - each of whom has their own unique system for staying warm.

Cool Claudio Cool Charmayne ande Susie Cool Gerard

Cool Me Cool Sue Cool Pete Cool Phil

Cool Al Cool Jon and Karen Cool Ann

As a special treat, Chen Zhao Ji from China was able to attend and display his amazing mechanical kites. Chen is easily one of the ten best kitemakers in the world and constructs exquisit painted silk kites with internal fans that produce moving components through a series of hand carved bamboo gears. Click here to see a short movie of these incredible kites.

Indoors, there are exhibits, displays, and workshops. Guests can get up close to examples of aerial photography, miniature kite making, art kite exhibits and historical kite artifacts that range from Garber Target kites to original tetrehedrials made by Alexander Graham Bell and pages from his note books.

The setting is incredible. The Madison Convention Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is right up against the "water". All three levels fill with people who press against the windows to watch us. There isn't another festival I know of where we get people looking down on the kite field like this.

On Friday, groups of kids come from local schools with kites they have made and masters from around the world help make them fly. I especially like the rokkakus with the bow lines threaded under the center spine and the fighters with the tails on the top instead of the bottom. But a kite that doesn't fly is an opportunity to teach and learn. Right??

And so many people..... People not only pack the warm cozy building, but fill the sidewalks and spill out onto the ice in huge numbers.

Last night, we rushed back from the ice to get a shower and return for the banquet. A night fly was scheduled - kites flown in the dark with spotlights searching them out -- but we generally don't like to do those. So Susan and I were two of the few kiters who were in fresh clothes for the meal.

The banquet was a fancy affair which included community leaders, sponsors, and kiters. It was also a fundraiser for the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation. An auction was held and I had been asked to auctioneer. Its always fun to try and entertain such a diverse crowd. But we brought in $3000, and no one complained out loud about my jokes...

Each night, kiters gather for more stories and fun. During our first year in Madison, we began to joke about the variety of headgear worn to keep warm in the ice. As a result, the Funniest Hat contest emerged. The competition is a tradition.... everyone parades in silly hats, are laughed at by their friends, and then the person with the best butt wins!

Clement Cathedral
Kids on Ice
Trilobite on Ice
Jester on Ice
Bethell on Ice

We're having a wonderful time here. The elements are cold, but the friendships are warm. We laugh a lot and can see our breath when we do.

Big Kite Show

Our next stops are the Fort Worden Kitemaker's Retreat in Washington State, and the Smithsonian Kite Festival in Washington D.C. That gives me nearly three whole weeks to catch up before I go on the road again. To celebrate, we'll take 20% off the price of any Snake or Corkscrew tails during the month of February.

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