~ Imagine a flat prairie landscape filled with whimsical kites hovering high above. Unique shapes and forms, such as colourful animals and artsy designs, dance, swirl and soar in the wind.~
Swift Current’s popular annual Windscape Kite Festival will take place on June 25 and 26 in 2016, from 10am to 5pm each day.
Me and the boys were fortunate enough to attend the festival a few years back. Here is an account of our experience!
Wind and Whimsy: Windscape Kite Festival
The thriving festival, which is continually growing, has made quite a name for itself. Beyond the draw of the kites, this family friendly event runs in conjunction with the Long Day’s Night music festival.
The weekend events of the kite festival feature celebrity kite flyers that perform amazing kite acrobatics to music and a number of activity stations that encourage people of all ages to have fun.
I traveled to Swift Current with my two boys in tow, then ages 5 and 7 to check it out first hand and test out the festival’s fun factor.
The first thing we noticed once arriving atop the hill just outside the city is the incredible sight of the kites soaring, followed by the sound. With strong winds, all the kites and markers blowing made quite the noise.
To say this year’s event was breezy would be underestimating the weather that weekend. However, it was a perfect fit for such a festival, even if innocent bystanders nearly became airborne a few times.
We picked a spot just past the main area, plunked down our chairs and enjoyed the view. We were immediately approached by a celebrity kite flyer that offered to help the boys try out one of his kites. Then it was time to explore the handfuls of activities.
Weekend kite events are free, but to take part in the activities, which require oodles of materials and volunteers (over 350 volunteers!), you must buy tokens.
The boys ran straight for the kite-building workshop, then dashed to the paper airplane clinic, then over to the hay maze. I managed to somehow keep up with their pace dutifully following them from station to station as they dug for treasures, received tattoos, blew bubbles and ran amok. I on the other hand was quite enthralled with the celebrity kite fliers.
These fliers navigate the wind gusts and perform manipulated routines set to music – truly astounding. They also appeared to be one heck of a workout.
Inspired by what they saw, the last activity my boys took part in was flying their own starter kites, which we purchased at the festival. Although the boys leaned toward the very fancy (and much more expensive – of course) kites, they required something they could easily handle. Once on the public field among the other kiters, they both quickly got the hang of it and had a blast.
For festival champion and organizer, Shann Gowan, it’s been a good year. Gowan, has worked hard to not only run but also grow the kite festival over the past decade. She was recognized for her dedication with the Fred Heal Tourism Ambassador Award at the Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence.
And it is undoubtedly a success on many levels.
Attracting over 13,000 to the event and bringing in 1.7 million in economic benefit to the city in 2013, the kite festival also draws in nearly half of its attendees from outside the city.
Swift Current really has something special here. Not only should you consider this festival in 2015, you should tell others about it. Let’s make it grow even bigger!
Check out www.windscapekitefestival.ca for more information.
This article originally appeared in Pink magazine.