Wind and rain did not dampen at­mos­phere at Wind­scape Kite Fes­ti­val

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON KERR SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

Cloudy skies and short bursts of rain couldn’t dampen the spir­its of the roughly 10,000 people who at­tended the 10th an­nual Wind­scape Kite Fes­ti­val in Swift Cur­rent over the weekend.

De­spite the less than ideal con­di­tions, res­i­dents from Swift Cur­rent and the sur­round­ing area showed up in large num­bers for live mu­sic, food, face paint­ing, and of course, kite fly­ing.

“It’s been a nice run,” Cul­ture Fes­ti­val’s Co-or­di­na­tor Shann Gowan said dur­ing a break in the ac­tion. “We’ve grown the fes­ti­val ev­ery year and we hope to con­tinue to grow it.”

This year marked the fes­ti­val’s 10th an­niver­sary, and things are a bit dif­fer­ent one decade later. Kite fly­ers at the Wind­scape Kite Fes­ti­val cau­tiously pre­pared a wide va­ri­ety of fly­ing cre­ations for the skies above Swift Cur­rent de­spite strong winds which cre­ated less than ideal fly­ing con­di­tions.

Orig­i­nally based in the north­west end of the city, the fes­ti­val at­tracted about 2,000 people in the first few years, be­fore mov­ing to the cur­rent spot on Marston St. and 11th Ave. S.W. on Swift Cur­rent’s South­side.

“We thought we were do­ing good back then,” Gowan said when asked about those orig­i­nal years. “10,000 is pretty good to get in the City of Swift Cur­rent, and more than half of them are from out of town.”

As part of the 10 year an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions, the fes­ti­val brought back some of their long time celebrity kite fly­ers to join their new­est edi­tions.

Sharon Musto from Air­drie, AB at­tended eight of the city’s 10 fes­ti­vals, and said the lo­ca­tion was the big­gest and most wel­come change from the first few years.

“The field is fan­tas­tic,” said Musto, who be­gan fly­ing kites back in the mid1990s. “This place is just a spec­tac­u­lar place to fly. I mean, look at the view and the open­ness of it. It’s won­der­ful.”

This year Musto didn’t fly as many of her kites as she would have liked due to an overly strong wind. How­ever, she still con­sid­ers the weekend a suc­cess, since in­ter­act­ing with vis­i­tors and other fly­ers, and see­ing their kites, is just as much fun.

“There’s so many dif­fer­ent styles of kites and kite fly­ing, (and) the people that come out,” she said. “The people are a huge part of it.”

The wind pro­vided a bit of a rude in­tro­duc­tion for celebrity fly­ers mak­ing their first trip to the fes­ti­val, but the pos­i­tives far out­weighed the neg­a­tives.

Craig Wil­son, who brought his kite fly­ing and aerial photo ex­per­tise to Saskatchew­an from the United States, said the turnout and at­mos­phere was a def­i­nite plus.

“The people are su­per­friendly and they seem to be re­ally into the kites,” the Wis­con­sin na­tive said dur­ing a break. “A lot of times in the United States they (crowds) come out to fes­ti­vals, but the kites are sort of a sec­ondary thing.”

He even man­aged to get a few shots off with his Kite Cam, a cam­era at­tached to the string of his kite that can take low al­ti­tude aerial pho­to­graphs of the sur­round­ing area.

“I was able to lift my cam­era in a few choice mo­ments,” he said. “I prob­a­bly had a cam­era in the air for about half an hour, two times for about 15 min­utes apiece. I choose two great times when it was sunny and the wind wasn’t just howl­ing and got some good shots, so for me it was awe­some.”

The fes­ti­val nor­mally at- tracts more than a few Euro­pean celebrity fly­ers and this year was no ex­cep­tion. Jan and Jolanda van Leeuwen came all the way from the Nether­lands for their first trip to Saskatchew­an this year, and like Wil­son, re­ally en­joyed the at­mos­phere.

“Friendly people,” said Jan when asked for his ini­tial im­pres­sions. “Re­ally friendly people.”

“We could learn some­thing about that in the Nether­lands, I think,” Jolanda added with a laugh.

Like most celebrity fly­ers here, Jan and Jolanda de­sign and build their own kites. It’s a time con­sum­ing process, but they say it’s ac­tu­ally the best part.

“For me that’s 80 per cent of the hobby,” Jan said. “Think­ing about them, de­sign­ing it, mak­ing it and then once you got it, the next 20 per cent is us­ing it and meet­ing new people.”

“It’s even more fun mak­ing them, al­most, then fly­ing them,” Jolanda added.

Un­for­tu­nately, the strong Saskatchew­an wind wasn’t as kind to the kites and Swift Cur­rent’s people were to the van Leeuwen’s. The wind caused a few mi­nor tears to one of their kites, forc­ing them to take it down, but they easy go­ing Dutch fly­ers took it all in stride. In fact, they may even be back again.

“That’s nice,” Jan said, when asked about try­ing other fes­ti­vals. “But, com­ing back here, that would be re­ally nice.”

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