I was asked by Carolyn Moore to put something in rec.kites about this
event. I felt that it was a bit unfair since I was one of the staff at the
event but Carolyn insisted.
This event is hosted by Wind Wizards Kite Shop in Lenexa, KS. Last
year this kite shop was voted the best retail outlet by the KTA. That is
interesting because three years ago things were a bit different.
Three years ago, about the same time the SWSKC was getting started, I
happened to meet with three individuals who were attending the KTA
convention in Dallas.
Of course they knew no one. Carolyn was trying to get help with
putting on a kite event and Richard Dermer suggested she talk with, yes
of all people, me.
Eager to get another event in SWSKC I sat and offered my limited
Three years later they have blossomed into one of the Mid-West's
primer kite events. This is not your regular kite competition. This is a
kite festival. This year contestants came from California, Colorado,
Iowa, Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska,
South Carolina and everywhere else.
Carolyn works with the community and at the event it shows.
Celebrities from the local soccer team had set up a booth to sign
autograph pictures and give out free passes to upcoming games.
A few Warner Bros. cartoon characters were walking the grounds
visiting with children. Fox Kids 41 Network was also a major sponsor,
providing FREE kites to the kiddies.
And kite flyers, well there were some awesome kite flyers. A special
field was set up just for kite manufactures to demonstrate product.
(How much, how does free sound.)
Bob Childs was out on the field giving lessons to a few of the estimated
15,000 spectators who gathered at Shawnee Mission Park just to watch
John MacLaughin from Skynasaur was really a hero. As we ran
impromptu children's kite contests through the main field, to kill some
dead time, John and Skynasaur offered kites as prizes.
But this is not what made John a hero. As I ran the events through the
main field we must have had a few hundred children flying the free
kites, trying to win some of the prizes.
One boy, who had already won a Skynasaur kite wanted to win again,
because he wanted to win a kite for his brother. It was a bit difficult to
judge the steadiest kite with over 50 little tiny kites crowed in a small
corner of the main field.
As the announcer and judge I wanted to be fair to all the children gave
the kite away to one of the other winners who had not won anything.
The young boy, standing beside his tearful brother, although a bit
disappointed, understood. When John heard that the boy wanted to win
a Skynasaur for his brother, he reached in his bag and gave the boy a
The event was great. Single line kites were displayed throughout the
day by several outstanding kite flyers like Craig Christianson and Dan
Klos, with his sky puppets.
The spectators really enjoyed watching the South Carolina Flying***
walk around the field and chase the announcer.
Saturday night we had a typical banquet with the typical banquet food
inside the typical gymnasium, with the typical kite friends and typical
kite talk. But then the typical banquet inside the typical gymnasium
changed. The tables were cleared and a space was made available for
the first ever (let the record be set) in door dual line ballet.
The sixty some odd spectators sat on the bleachers as the contestants of
this first ever indoor dual-line sport kite ballet prepared for their
routines. Since this was a bit impromptu, so was the selection of music.
A boom box was set upon the stage and we were ready to go.
The event was not set to any rules but was fairly judged. Who judged?
The spectators you ninny. We used the latest in new fangled high tech
portable applause meter. There were some great moments and some
very interesting crashes. I think this was the first time I had ever seen a
kite crash make two points. (Whoop! there it is.)
Event judging was carried out by Jon Trenepole from Skyburner.
Friday evening, Chris Moore and myself put on a very high tech
Several months ago, I put together a computerized slide presentation
which outlines information within the rules book and provides some
insight on some of the more basic issues of judging. This seminar
helped the event by providing more informed judges. (Also FREE)
The end of the event, as it has been the past three years, has always
been the wild crazy and exciting Rokkaku Challenge. Of course
Carolyn and the teams go all out. The sound system has got to be the
best, (let me emphasize this...the best) sound system I have ever seen
used at a kite event in the US.
(Since I don't travel abroad I can not speak for kite events outside the
And the sound engineer is one heck of a rocker. I don't know what
happened but the first time him and I met it was like we knew each
others thoughts. And for three years since he has been a rocker kiter.
What does this have to do with the Rokkaku Challenge?
Well, give me a minute to set you up. The Rokkaku Challenge is really
a battle, so as we began the introduction of the teams and their
members we also needed some BATTLE MUSIC!!! The engineer was
The crowd of some 3,000 spectators gathered around the main field as
the teams set up their kites. Team and their captains also helped to get
the crowd e***d by coming up to the mic and letting the audience
know just what they intended to do to win. Then the captains began
delegating responsibilities to each team member. The field was set
Finally, a call from the field director. "Launch Your Kites"!
The music created an atmosphere of battle as the kites took to the air.
The music slowly increasing in volume to the heat of the fight. The
crowd yelled and screamed, as kites entangled in the skies above.
Shouting spectators waving fists in the air from the sidelines
encouraging the teams the fight.
There was, after three heats, finally a winner. The Kansas City Kite
Club was victorious again for the 3rd year in a row.
This was exciting! As Mike Kunkee told me yesterday, spectators at
kite events want to see a show, and that's what we gave them.
Carolyn is already planning next years event. If you don't make it next
year...you'll just have to read about it all over again.
Look for an article in the next issue of American Kite Magazine.