August 17, 2010
Dieppe -- the One in Canada

Dieppe Canada. Dieppe France. Odd years and even years. It is all so confusing.

The huge international festival in Dieppe France is held every two years - in even numbered years. When their sister-city in Canada went looking for a signature event, the idea of a kite festival seemed a natural. So they began a similar event in odd years with fliers around-the-world invited to staff pavilions and mix with the public on the broad grassy fields of Dover Park. Dieppe partnered with Dieppe and we all got used to explaining whether they meant Canada or France.

Finally, this year, Canada decided to add to the confusion and take their festival annual.


Everything that could be controlled in Dieppe this year was run well. Step off the plane and someone was waiting with a sign and a ride to the hotel. We got decent lodging and private (not shared) rooms. There was convenient transportation to the park. Fine meals. A workable schedule. Anchors. Ample flying space. A great mix of invited performers and good access by anyone else who wanted to join in. In short, the organizers did a fine job!

Only one thing was missing. Wind.

We spent four days at Dover trying to coax kites into the sky. When there was a breeze, it would change direction frequently and with a sadistic sense of humor. Some fliers used indoor kites outdoors. Some flew minis along the edge of the field. And some added lift in unusual ways.

So it was disappointing to have a great show in the bag and a excited crowd and not be able to do much. Dieppe made my time in Bogota seem downright breezy!

We started each afternoon with a rok fight. Usually they went quickly with nothing but running and field space to stay airborne. It took luck, skill, and a darned good kite to prevail.

Rok Fight

Early in the week, Dieppe offered a real treat. Aerial Experience put together a polished and professional indoor show that was seen by about 1200 paying guests. A team of seven fliers -- Lee and Debbie Park, Lisa Willoughby, Paul deBakker, Glenn Davison, Wen Jeng, and Scott Weider used ultralights, lighting, tight choreography and music for a result that would be appropriate on any Vegas stage. Indoor flying is definitely ready for the public!!

Speaking of indoor flying, Connor was on America's Got Talent Tuesday night. What a wonderful inspiration! Connor is an old pal and a really great kid. We are all so proud of him and happy for his mom, Amy.

Can indoor kite flying go all the way on AGT?? Who cares! Connor has done more to promote modern kiting in the past two weeks than most of us have done in a lifetime. He is already a winner! And through his talent and efforts, so are all of us.

With no wind to fly, we spent sunny days meeting festival guests in our national tents. Breezes would perk up each evening just as we re ready to leave the field. But Saturday, we stayed around for a fine night fly.

Country Tents Country Tents Country Tents Country Tents

I was impressed with the depth of community support. The local paper featured a four page color spread each day! On Monday, I noted a congratulatory editorial.

A live stage and great music kept crowds coming in and I'm told the first night, $45,000 of beer was sold. That will certainly keep the kite event funded for next year. Most of the fliers passed on the party and headed for the hotel for some down time. Guess we are all getting older...

Dieppe bills itself as the largest kite event in North America. I would not say they have the largest show, or the largest attendance. But I would say that they now have the largest international guest list on the continent. And that makes the festival well worth attending. By emulating their French counterpart, the have developed a program with a decidely Europen feel. It probabaly helps that half the people there speak French.

Sunday was a holiday with everyone turning out in red, white, and blue to celebrate their Acadian roots. It was a fun and colorful end to a fine week. But next year, can we have a bit of wind please??

Festival Rok

Monday morning, I boarded the flight for home. It felt good to sleep in my own bed! It is a crazy-busy two days and then off to Long Beach Washington. The week-long festival started Monday, and folks there are already asking where we are!

Eleven weeks, four permits, and $7,000 later, we have a new sign at the beach store. And a fine looking one it is too! Last week, the mayor helped us flip the switch. Here's a portion of the news story:

"Bringing two stores online in twelve months is pretty exciting", said David Gomberg. "And we are very proud to have created eight new jobs and put people back to work."

NorthWest Winds sells kites, wind socks, flags, and wind toys. The focus is on products manufactured by the Gombergs. Other goods are from Northwest based distributors. "We're all about 'buy local'" explained Susan Gomberg.

"Ninety-five percent of what you find in our stores comes from small businesses in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho."

The company is family based with the retail division managed by Susan's brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Jackie Oswald. Additional employees include a husband and wife team. In 2004, Gomberg Kites was named one of the top three small family businesses in Oregon.

Manager Jackie Oswald added that NorthWest Winds is working to support the greater Lincoln City message. "Each weekend between June and October, we're coordinating exhibitions of large kites at the Wayside. The kite shows are also supported by the Odysius Hotel. It isn't just about selling kites. It is about helping people feel good about Lincoln City."

"This is a great Lincoln City story", said Mayor Lori Hollingsworth."We have an award-winning local family business, thriving alongside national brands at the mall. And now they have a second new store! They aren't waiting for the economy to change. They are investing in our community now, growing now, and putting people to work now."


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