October 19, 2010
AKA - Back to Seaside

The AKA convention first came to Seaside, Oregon, in 1990.

Those were the days when local clubs hosted the event and ran them with volunteers. Susan and I were the co-chairs.

We were both working full-time and so we negotiated meeting rooms and banquets on our lunch hours, and then came home at night and entered registrations into our computer. We re-organized auction receiving, added more workshops, and assisted dozens of international visitors. Four hundred fliers attended making Oregon '90 AKA's largest convention to date and a great success

Seaside Beach

Seaside AKA

The experience nearly destroyed our statewide club.

When I became president, I was determined to find a way to hire professional management for an event too large and complex for well intentioned volunteers to run.

Seaside is an ideal convention location. The two-hour drive to the airport is a problem. But once you arrive, you get broad beaches, clean wind, hotels overlooking the field, relatively low lodging costs, and convention meeting space a block away. The area is alive with history, sightseeing, and natural beauty. There is a strong kiting tradition which guarantees a good turnout. And since Oregon is one of three states with no sales tax, shopping is cheaper!

So it makes sense that AKA has returned to Seaside four times in the past 20 years.

Attendance was lower this year. Only about 200 fliers registered. Sadly, that reflects recent trends in the Association resulting from a poor economy, some political acrimony, and the decline in competition which surely alone represents a 100 flier loss.

But there was no shortage of amazing kites in the competition sky. Check out these wonderful creations and see if you can gaugue which were the top award winners.

AKA Kites AKA Kites AKA Kites AKA Kites AKA Kites AKA Kites AKA Kites AKA Kites

A highlight for me is the annual Auction -- especially when they hand me the microphone and turn me loose on my friends!

Standing on stage for three-plus hours with no break and talking fast -- non-stop -- is a challenge. Usually I slip up and say something stupid at some point. Sometimes I tell jokes that fall flat. And sometimes, the crowd turns tables on me.

AKA Auction AKA Auction AKA Auction

This year the audience raised over $400 to send the infamous Star Farker home with me along with instructions it be displayed over my bed! More about that in a future update.... The auction raised $21,000 -- three thousand more than budgeted!! We also learned that AKA, while starting the year $3,000 in the red, had cut costs to finish $7,000 in the black. Membership numbers are up slightly as well. So the money news is good and I congratulate the leadership for reversing frightening trends and taking good care of our club.

It was a small but positive convention with a decidedly Northwest feel. Lots of first-timers were in the room and hopefully they will come to AKA again.

Grand Champion

Who won grand champion??

Seventeen year old Will Sturdy beat AKA's best kitemakers to become the youngest champion ever!

Between Will's kitemaking skills, and Connor Doran's reception at the indoor fly, it ws clear that there is plenty of talent among the young members of our old Association.

Seal Beach Sky

Bob Wendt was Volunteer of the Year. The Westport Windriders were Club of the Year. And Greg Lameroux was RD of the Year.

Dave and Diane Buttler won the Lee Toy Award. Mel Hickman was presented the Ingraham Trophy. And the Edeiken Award for Kiteflier of the Year went to the great Peter Lynn. Barb Meyer was re-elected president.

And me? I managed to struggle to third place in both team and individual Rokkaku despite carrying twice the years (and pounds) of most other competitors -- as well as a huge target on my back. And Darrin Skinner (Susie Skinner's husband) and I, flying as "Susies' Spouses" took first in Team Train Ballet over on the sport kite field.

The FlyMarket was a modest success despite the smaller turnout. Oh, and if you noticed Martin Lester's new Cheshire kite in the auction photos above (See all-white kite on the left), we have ten of them and will take orders as soon as prices are confirmed. Email if you want to reserve one!

FlyMarket

We drove home Sunday, worked like crazy all day Monday, and then headed for the airport Monday night.

We're now en route to Cape Town and Africa's largest kite festival. It is a LONG trip but I used miles to upgrade so hopefully we'll be comfortable and get some well deserved sleep. We return home on November 2nd.

Check back for news of our further adventures!

Thanks to KiteLife.com for many of the photos in this week's update. Check their web magazine for full report on the convention and all competition results.

Horse Kite

New from Peter Lynn Ltd.:

Carousel Horse

"The most amazing thing was the effect that he had on the children. Maybe because he is approximately life size and life coloured he seems more real than some other kites. Several kids came up and stroked him - absolutely extraordinary!! I have often seen children play with kites but normally in a boisterous way - never have I seen children petting a kite."

The PL Horse is about 20 feet long and now priced at $1800.

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