changes.typepad.com > Kite Festival

01_wynterandlaura

01_wynterandlaura

Laura and Wynter as we arrive at the 24th Annual Weifang International Kite Festival. Laura is a friend and sometime guide for us. She helped keep track of Marit and Mattie amid the mass of humanity at the festival.


02_wynterandmattie

02_wynterandmattie

Wynter gives Mattie a ride up to the entry gate of the festival. At times carrying Mattie above the forest of legs she moved among was the easiest and surest way of keeping her within reach.

Notice the kites in the distance. They are roughly 1/3 mile away from us.


03_asyouwalkin

03_asyouwalkin

This is the view up as you get to the ticket gate.


04_ticketcheckers

04_ticketcheckers

It's not everyday your ticket takers are dressed in field helmets and fatigues. The poor fellow on the right was already going hoarse at 9:00 AM when we arrived.


05_atthegate

05_atthegate

All you need to do is look up. And down to watch out for kites and associated rigging on the ground as you walk along. Doing both simultaneously was an exercise in futility.


06_kitemayhem

06_kitemayhem

Kites of all kinds, colors and sizes were visible in every direction. There was no way you could see them all in one glance and the number in view changed constantly as some were retrieved, others launched and the rest just kept moving around.


07_morekites

07_morekites

This was the scene as we arrived with the first wave of visitors. In less than an hour there were twice as many kites up in this same patch of sky.


08_ringkite

08_ringkite

This kite was roughly 30 feet in diameter and made of numerous sgements that looked for all the world like simple wind socks. The rigging to keep this thing round while flying was quite something. Sadly, it can't be seen in the photo.


09_tetrakite

09_tetrakite

We never saw this in the air but have seen video of it flying. The local tourism folks gave Wynter a DVD of last year's festival and this creature was up in the air and putting on a show. I'm sorry we could not stick around until they had this ready to fly.


10_kitestring

10_kitestring

Now this is some industrial strength kite string. This is the rig that kept one kite from disappearing over the horizon. There were many others equally as impressive.


11_beijing2008

11_beijing2008

This is the kite the giant kite reel was hanging on to. I'm already tired of the Beijing Olympic games and they are still more than a year away. They are a constant advertising presence. It gets old. But the kite was still cool.


12_octopuskiteground

12_octopuskiteground

There were several octopus kites around. This one was getting ready to launch but the folks were having trouble keeping people off all the legs so they could let it go.


13_octopuskiteairborne

13_octopuskiteairborne

The green octopus takes flight.


14_yellowoctopus

14_yellowoctopus

This yellow octopus showed up to complete with the green one. The legs snap like whips as the wind passes through them. Most of the kites we saw were not silent flyers. Some of the speed and maneuverable kites made ripping sounds as they darted about. It was quite noisy at times due to nothing more than wind interacting with fabric.


15_littlecobra

15_littlecobra

This kite was one of the most active. It zigzagged through the sky at the slightest change in the wind direction or speed. You are seeing only about 50% of the tail in this photo. The kite itself is about 15 feet from side to side.


16_biggercobra

16_biggercobra

This is the biggest "cobra" kite we saw. The kite is actually three dimensional. As the wind blows against it, the kite body actually inflates. You see many kites that appear to be more like balloons than kites but none is filled with any gas except moving air. Anything else is just not cricket.


17_fulllengthbigcobra

17_fulllengthbigcobra

I guessed the length of this cobra kite to be roughly 400 feet. It was awfully hard to tell in the air as it never was still long enough to guage it against fixed objects. When on the ground you could never navigate in a straight line through all the people to pace off the length. My efforts to actually ask the length proved futile. Alas, the language barrier is hard to overcome at times.


18_catfishonground

18_catfishonground

This is one of my favorite kites. It is just being readied for launch. Part of the problem for the kite flyers was getting enough open space to lay out their rigs to get them ready.


19_catfishairborne

19_catfishairborne

Who said catfish can't fly?


20_squarerigger

20_squarerigger

This kite was probably the most interesting we saw. It was made by a local company. Weifang touts itself as the kite capital of the world and there are many manufacturers of them here. This particular company was putting on a great show.


21_castingoff

21_castingoff

The square rigger casting off on another voyage. The line holding it is about 1/4" nylon cording. In addition to lifting itself, this kite was dragging along quite a load in tether alone.


22_sailing

22_sailing

The square rigger sets sail.


23_outtosea

23_outtosea

The square rigger is out to sea and heading for the horizon.


24_dragonkitestring

24_dragonkitestring

This really is a ball of kite string for a dragon kite. Many of the kites were tethered by 1/4 thick nylon line and often there were several people holding each. The dragon kites were actually anchored to the ground with several 1 1/2" diameter steel pins. The rope was woven around them and tied off.


25_dragonscales

25_dragonscales

A dragon kite is made of many "scales", all seemingly identical. I have no idea how many were involved in each of the kites we saw. I'm sure the count was well into the hundreds.


26_dragonasleep

26_dragonasleep

This is a dragon kite being stretched out prior to launch. I did not come close to getting the whole thing in this picture. There were actually two being rigged at the same time and I could not get an entire series of just one of them so I patched the process together using two different kites. You'll notice the coloring of the scales is different from picture to picture in this series. My guess is that each dragon kite was roughly 400 yards (yup 1/4 mile) long. They may actually have been longer.


27_wakethedragon

27_wakethedragon

Before a dragon kite is launched it seems one must awaken it using, you guessed it, a massive fireworks show. In this case it was mostly for sound and not for visuals. It was plenty loud and the dragon did indeed awake following it.


28_dragontakesflight

28_dragontakesflight

The dragon kite was held down by many handlers just prior to launch. At launch, the end of the tail is tossed to the wind and once grabbed goes almost straight up immediately. Each handler on the kite lets his section go in succession and the dragon literally rises with an audible hiss, sounding much like ripping fabric.


29_upthetail

29_upthetail

This photo is looking up part of this dragons tail before the man next to me let go of his section of tail and the kite shot up further. Because of their length considerable care is taken in letting each section of tail go to avoid tangling nearby kites. In the end they were not completely sucessful. Two dragon kite tails tangled and both had to be hauled down in tandem to avoid damage. They were still extricating the kites from each other when we left.


30_fromadistance

30_fromadistance

A dragon tail from some paces back.


31_dragonhead2

31_dragonhead2

Every dragon must have a head. He didn't get to stay airborne long as the tail to this head tangled with another dragon kite tail only moments later. There was a collective gasp as the two tails wrapped around each other hundreds of feet above us.


32_eaglekite

32_eaglekite

This kite is actually made of nothing more than wood, paper and paint. And it does indeed fly. This fellow was determined to get us in a picture with him and his kite so we gladly complied. Our biggest concern was that we'd accidentally damage his bit of artwork. He was very sweet and showed the girls every detail of his kite that they found worthy of inspection.


33_simpleidea

33_simpleidea

Kites do not have to be impressive to be enjoyed. All it takes is a little string and some imagination to fly.


34_drumcorp

34_drumcorp

During the festival different traditional groups would perform on one area of the field. This group of drummers and percussionists was quite entertaining. They produced some amazing rythms and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Another group we saw was fan dancers. There were several others waiting in the wings as we were leaving but we could not figure out what exactly they did.


35_drumsandkites

35_drumsandkites

The kites flew on as the band played. It was nearly sensory overload. The food vendors only added to the problem.


36_drumliine

36_drumliine

Marit was the first to notice that the costumes of the drummers and those playing cymbals were color reversals of each other. Every detail in each was the exact reversal of the other down to the smallest item, even the buttons.


37_drumstyle

37_drumstyle

All I can say is these folks were having fun. The third lady in line was having a ball.


38_singledrum

38_singledrum

A single drum among many played with gusto.


39_overview

39_overview

This was the view as we headed for the gate and our trip back to town for lunch.


40_goinghome

40_goinghome

This is what it looks like when thousands of folks decide to go home for lunch and thousands more decide to come to the show. This is definitely not Kansas, Toto.