August 24, 2011
A Stellar Long Beach

Festival Poster

The seven day Washington State International Kite Festival (called Wisk-If by regulars) has a long and well deserved reputation as the largest and most successful of our North American kite events. You start with an impossibly large beach. Add an active local kiting community.Provide strong leadership and good organization. And then mix in typically good weather. The result transforms this small northwest beach town into a kite Mecca.

It is dawn on Thursday. The sun is rising in the East and the tide is out. Across the dunes, you see the larger kites beginning to take flight.

This is at seven in the morning got gosh sakes!

Throughout the morning, kiters continue to work their way out to the sand and add to the show. But the best spots always go to the early arrivals.

Sunrise in LB
Festival Fliers

Kiters are able to bring their vehicles to the edge of the field. They off-load and then use anchors set earlier by city crews. By mid-day, large kites fill the sky north of the main street that divides the beach.

Flowforms and streamers have become the kite of choice for most performers on the north side. Large lifers and laundry dominate the field. And there are surprisingly few of the larger inflatable character kites from New Zealand.

On the south end of the festival, quad fliers gather. The group has no sound system and little more than a simple large marked flying area. They are self-contained and self-aware.

Last year there were fifty Rev pilots, all working together, teaching, networking, and creating one hell of a show.

They launch in a grid pattern, four fliers deep, and then execute a series of maneuvers designed to minimize tangles and maximize interaction. At the center of the program is John Barresi and IQuad. Further up near the main festival field, Lolly and Ben give free lessons.

Participants have come from around the country and the continent to join this cooperative mass flying program.

Quad Fliers
Festival Field

In the main arena, an announcer maintains pace for a tightly scheduled series of events. Each day there is a theme with mass ascensions, competitions, costumes, and choreography.

Most spectators gather here to watch the show. At times the large field seems empty with just one performer to entertain the crowd. At other times, mass flights fill the sky with similarly designed kites. There are parades of banners, rokkaku fights, and bear drops for children.

Everything operates according to a formula that has developed over the past 30 years. And each event has volunteers that know their jobs well.

The evening schedule is as busy as the daily field programs. Wednesday, the Washington club has a dinner. Thursday the Oregon group hosts a club potluck.

Friday the Kite Museum has a reception and announces the inductees to the Hall of Fame. And Saturday, there is an award banquet and auction.

Not interested in clubs and museums? There are nightly indoor flies, fireworks on the beach, or a plethora of private parties and open bars. Long Beach is a busy week!

Museum
WSIKF Banner

Old timers observe that WSIKF isn't what it used to be. There are fewer kites, fewer kiters, and less spectators.

I'm not sure if there are really fewer kiters. We're just spread out over more fields and more activities. It is almost like there are three separate events taking place on the same beach with precious little interaction among the fliers.

The organized schedule on the main field is fun for some. But I prefer the camaraderie on the open fields and the big kite guys and gals.

This was the first Long Beach in many years that we had no rain at all and just one day of fog. For the most part, the winds blew and the kites flew.

Susie and i are home a few weeks and then head east for Ocean City and AKA. We're working now on products, catalogs, and travel plans for 2012. Let us know if you have any suggestions!

Bugs

Zum Zums are proving a really popular line addition.

We're still offering one of our best sales of the year! Frogs, Fish, Bugs, and Chameleons. You should add one or two to your own collection!

Order one of these pieces before September 1 and mention the Update to get a 20% discount. Check our Unique Inflatable Kites for more details.

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