Up, Up & Away at the Windscape Kite Festival July 20, 2017 · 9 min. readDisclaimer: While the thoughts and opinions are my own, this article was brought to you by a third party.
As this was my first time flying a kite, I'm proud to say I only crashed it about thirty times. Thankfully, my instructor said, the kite wasn't too expensive and was made for crash landings. After one particular sharp nose-dive, however, he came over to show me what I was doing wrong. After a few minor adjustments, I kicked the kite back into the air and managed to do my first loop.
The field we were in was empty that day. Within 24 hours, however, the field would be full of kite enthusiasts from across the world. Many of the kite flyers were from Canada and the United States, but some even came as far away as London, Germany and New Zealand. At only 13 years old, the SaskPower Windscape Kite Festival has become internationally renowned to kite flyers around the world.
When people think of kites, they might think of the classic diamond shaped kite of Charlie Brown. However, these days there are many different kinds of kites, and each with their own unique design and purpose.
One type of kite the festival is most famous for are the "inflatables". These kites are known for their incredible size, with many being hundreds of feet long. Due to their sheer mass, the updraft they create is too strong for the average person to control, so they are instead pegged to the ground with metal stakes buried 15 feet deep. By the time the festival is over, many of these stakes have been bent 90 degrees due to the constant tugging of the kites.
Another kind of kite that is less famous than the "inflatables" are the "ground bouncers". These kites sit along the ground and bounce in the wind. They are often designed to look like cute, round animals such as frogs, crabs or fish. While smaller than their inflatable cousins, these kites are also staked to the ground to prevent them from blowing away.
"Parafoils" are another unique type of kite. They are longer than they are wide and often have a long tail behind them. These kites are often created by hand and have either personal, religious or cultural designs sewn into them. They fly slightly lower than "inflatables" and are controlled by people.
"Line laundry" is a nickname given to a fourth kind of kite. This type of kite actually includes several kites that are all attached together on a string so that they blow simultaneously in the wind. They're nicknamed "line laundry" because they look kind of like, well, laundry hanging on a line.
The kind of kite I flew was called a "stunt kite" and can be used for shows and performances. The man who taught me to fly a kite, Bill Brosius, can fly three of these kites at once, controlling one with each hand and a third one with his hips. He told me he's trying to master flying a fourth kite too, which he would use his shoulders to maneuver.
While the kites are very impressive, there's plenty to see around Windscape as well. Throughout the weekend there is the Kinetic Wind Garden Sculpture, clown shows, treasure hunts and even a walking tour discussing the origins of the many different kites.
There were also a wide variety of food trucks at the festival. These included Boston Pizza, Booster Juice, Bon Burger, Smoke's Poutinerie and the Smoke Shack. For those just looking for a drink, you could buy those at the festival canteen as well. While there is no alcohol served at the festival, you're welcome to order coffee, water or pop.
One of the most difficult things about hosting a family friendly festival like Windscape is how to entertain the children. While adults can spend hours ogling at kites flying, children can't. To solve this problem, the organizers of the festival have a tent dedicated to children activities. Here you can design your own kite, fly a pre-made kite and race paper airplanes. Kids can also get decked out in face paint, get temporary tattoos, goof off in the Bubble Station or try their skills in the juggling tent.
Past the Public Flying Field is a straw maze, a mystery sand pit and a place to race with a "bol" – or parachute – strapped to the child's back. I just had to try the last one, and it is a lot harder than it looks!
At the far end of the festival is Windscape's iconic Splatter Mural. The mural starts off white, but quickly becomes a rainbow of colours thanks to an army of children with water guns full of paint. This is one of the most popular locations at the festival, simply because it is just so messy!
The festival runs from 10 AM to 5 PM throughout the weekend, but once the kites are packed up for the day, a second festival begins. As the kite festival occurs near the Summer Equinox, the same grounds are used for the The Long Day's Night Music Festival – a festival dedicated to the longest days of the year. While alcohol isn't served at Windscape, it is served here, and it's very popular. While many common beers are available, the festival favours locally brewed beer above all others. (Unlike a certain football stadium.)
I went to three of the four nights of music while at the festival, and had a great time each night. The music varied between folk, rock, latin and country and had two bands playing each night. All the artists are Canadian, with many of them from Saskatchewan. Three artists I really enjoyed were the Scenic Route to Alaska, Megan Nash and Regina's very own Skavenjah.
If you're planning on going to the music festival, be sure to bring a jacket and toque. The festival might take place in a tent in the middle of the summer, but it can still get pretty cold out at night. Bringing earplugs wouldn't hurt either as the music can get a little loud.
While the kites, the music, the food and activities are all very impressive, the best thing about these two festivals is the volunteers. People from across Saskatchewan come to Swift Current this weekend to help host the festival and many spend countless hours in the wind and heat making it the best it can be. When I first arrived, I put down my camera and helped with some of the volunteering as well. Enjoying the festival was one thing, but being a part of the process that helped it all come together was another. Working together, making new friends and seeing hundreds of people enjoy it were probably my favorite thing about my experience at the two festivals.
The SaskPower Windscape Kite Festival ran from June 24th – 25th, and the Long Day's Night Music Festival ran from June 22nd – 25th. Be sure to visit their websites for updated 2018 information.
Did you get out to the festivals this year? What was your favorite part? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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