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.
December has finally arrived, and with it is the season of gift giving. Personally, I always find Christmas shopping – or shopping for any reason – very difficult and very frustrating. Maybe it's because I'm a guy, but there just seems to be so many stores and so many sales that I always get pretty overwhelmed, especially when it comes to shopping for children. In an attempt to ease the pain of holiday shopping, I have reached out to three local businesses around Regina to tell me a little about who they are and what they have going on this holiday season. Have you ever visited these locations? Let me know about it in the comments below!
Located in the south end of Regina, Kids Trading Company has been a part of the Regina community for the past 15 years. Here you can find a mixture of new and gently used children's clothing, shoes, toys and accessories.
Enjoy shopping in a local store where the friendly staff knows the products and can help you find what you need, like warm winter boots from Kamik or waterproof mittens and fleecy hats. Brands like Desigual, Hatley, Yogini, Billabong and Mexx will give you lots of options for great quality clothes in the latest styles. Need a baby gift? Shop their baby section for the cutest sleepers and practical accessories like Amber teething necklaces and muslin blankets.
Love poutine, Justin Trudeau and just about everything Québécois? G Adventures had the right idea including Montréal in two of their Canadian tours, but Montréal isn't the only noteworthy place to visit in Québec. Now, this tour doesn't give Québec the justice it deserves either, but hopefully it inspires you to take your time to explore the wonders it has to offer. Québec is a beautiful province with a long history, stretching back over four centuries, so this tour is dedicated to the incredible history and culture of French Canada.
Our fictional tour starts in Montréal. If you've read my Five Historic Canadian Cities article last week, you already know Montréal is one of Canada's most lively cities. Packed with some of Canada's most impressive scientific museums, Montréal is also home to an archeological and historical museum, Pointe-à-Callière. Inside one of the most unique buildings in Old Montréal, this museum ventures deep into the history of the city and explores its foundation, its struggles and its changes. With 375 years of history, to uncover this museum starts off with the discovery of Hochelaga and showcases various sections of the original sewer system. The museum also has several illustrations showing the plagues and fires that once decimated the early city. The museum also has an interactive section about the pirates that once terrorized the St. Lawrence River. This museum is one of my absolute favorites, so if you love museums as much as I, you'll want to check it out.
Several months ago Ford Canada approached me to review their 2017 Ford Explorer. I wanted to see how it handled grid roads, so I took it to a variety of ghost towns, abandoned houses and empty villages around Saskatchewan. I had a lot of fun with the article, and I guess Ford liked it too because a few months later they invited me to go out to the Sunshine Coast to try out a few other vehicles.
There were a few differences between this trip and the one I did around Saskatchewan. The first difference was that this was in the wooded forests of British Columbia and not the flat prairie of Saskatchewan. Instead of having the vehicle for a week, this would be a 2-day trip from Vancouver to the Painted Boat Resort and back again. Also, instead of traveling solo, I'd be travelling with several lifestyle and travel bloggers from across Western Canada – including the 2015 Saskatchewanderer Ashlyn George from The Lost Girl's Guide to Finding the World.
The vehicle we got on the way up to the resort was the same red Ford Explorer I tried out earlier this year. This worked out great for me as I was already very familiar with the vehicle and its quirks. On the way back Ashlyn drove a white 2017 Ford Edge.