The Art of Flying Kites at the Windscape Kite Festival

*This post was created in partnership with the SaskPower Windscape Kite Festival and in sponsorship with Tourism Saskatchewan But as always, the experiences, thoughts and opinions are completely my own. 

I am an adult. But sometimes I still want to get my face painted and fly kites.

So I did at Swift Current’s Windscape Kite Festival.

Photo Credit: Craig Hilts of Prairie Fire Photography (www.prairiefirephoto.com)

In fact, it was the perfect place to embrace my inner child and do other wonderful activities like spraying splatter walls and running with kite parachutes.

It was my very first time at the Windscape Kite Festival last weekend and it was enchanting. Picture hundreds of brightly coloured kites swooping and fluttering in the big, open skies of Saskatchewan.

There might not be any other activity so appropriate to the rolling, windswept prairies here in the south of the province. Kite flying is graceful, majestic and capable of inciting feelings of giddiness and joy in anyone – regardless of whether you’re watching the kites or flying them yourself.

The Science of Kites

Despite the ease with which kites flutter through the air, I was impressed by the science that goes on behind creating a kite that will take to the sky. Kite designers and flyers need to consider multiple aspects of flying, such as range and weight of kite material, lift, drag, tension and velocity (to name only a few).

There are also limitless options when it comes to the design and shape of kites, such as delta, sled, box, fixed wing, cellular, facet and power kites. The challenge can be in either how it looks or how it flies (or both). I was quick to realize this when scanning the Celebrity Kite Flying Field and taking in the array of styles, shapes, colours and designs.

Professional kite flyers from all over the world attend the festival to display and fly their kites. They range from giant, inflatable trilobites, dragons and whales to stunt kites that dance in tandem with each other – and somehow never get tangled.

Hand-Painted Kites


Kites can be artwork because of the designs printed or painted on them. Kitemaker, artist and professor at Montana State University, John Pollock has been perfecting the art of hand-painting kites for years. In fact, he created a very specific style of layering paint in such a way to create a combination of colours from only four colours of paint. He’s won multiple awards for the talent and artistry he brings to the world of kiting.

The Design of Kites

Sometimes the artistry of a kite is in the design of it. Ron Bohart is a portrait artist who uses the process of applique (when different shapes and patterned fabric are sewn together in such a way to create an image or pattern) to create giant images on Rokkaku soft kites. His kites are up to 90 feet long and 240 square feet. The coloured fabric in the kites are hand-dyed. Each kite takes up to three or four months to build. They feature images of people, endangered animals and nature.

Construction and design of the handmade kites are all built from hours of hard work and trial and error. Both professional and amateur kiters I spoke with joked there’s a process called “TLAR” when building each kite, which stands for “that looks about right.”

Flying a Kite

Sometimes the art of kiting is in flying the kite. Instructors Ray Gowan and Josh Soper both took time to teach me a little about how to fly a kite. It’s much harder than it looks, particularly when trying to make them swoop or loop.

Both helped guide my hands when controlling how to swing the kite across the sky and control it so it wouldn’t crash in the grassy field. Thankfully some prior practice in learning to fly a snowkite and kitesurfing kite helped me keep from crashing the dual line kite too many times.

 

3 Tips for Flying Kites:

Ray and Josh offered me three helpful tips when it comes to learning how to fly a dual-line delta kite:

1. Choose the correct kite for the wind
There are a variety of types and sizes of kites to fly so it’s important to choose a kite for the wind and for your skill level.

2. Practice
Start slowly learning the basics of steering and then work towards stunt tricks.

3. Determination
It takes determination to learn how to keep from crashing the kite especially when you can’t control mother nature or the wind.

*Bonus tip: watch out for gopher hills, particularly if flying in a field in Saskatchewan.

Although kite flying was the main focus of the festival, there was so much more for those attending. There were children’s activities that include the splatter paint wall, a candy catapult, face painting, bubble blowing, a mystery sandpit, the bol race (holding a kite parachute and racing against someone) as well as a variety of free toys for kids.

Performances by professional kite flyers are scheduled throughout the day. There’s the opportunity to speak with the celebrity kite flyers and the opportunity to make your own kite or learn to fly one.

Food trucks are out on site all day.

In the evening, the festival grounds turns into the Long Day’s Night music festival. This year I caught shows on Friday and Saturday night by The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer with The Moon Runners and Five Alarm Funk with The Steadies.

But the best part about the Windscape Kite Festival is that it’s completely free. There are even savings on coupons for children’s activities and kite flying lessons that you can find here.

I attended the Windscape Kite Festival with the expectation of being delighted and awed. I left the festival with an appreciation for the science, artistry and hard work that goes into displaying, performing and flying kites. I also had a deep appreciation for the more than 150 volunteers who came out to help put on such a unique event in southern Saskatchewan. Community events in cities and towns across the province are always a success because of everyone behind the scenes who work so hard to organize and put on the festival.

Thanks to the Windscape Kite Festival for inviting me out to experience the magic of flying a kite in Saskatchewan!

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