By Kim Lyle
Last weekend the winds refused to cooperate at Louisiana’s only annual Kite Fest, but that didn’t keep spirits from soaring.
The event attracted a wide spectrum of ages, many happy to run through mud puddles with their fists wrapped tightly around the strings of a kite. The sport’s high level of accessibility is just one of its charming attributes.
“People talk about the all-American stuff like apple pie and baseball, but they leave out kite flying,” said Michael Boswell, a member of Austin’s End of the Line Kite Team. “You see all ages. People who are in their nineties will be out here with kids who just want to have a little fun. Everybody’s having a blast. Each festival we go to is that way. That’s what really makes it fun, seeing all the happy kids and happy families.”
One of the major attractions of the event is the opportunity to see talented professionals perform a variety of complicated kite acrobatics. But this year even four-line kites, the lightest of the bunch, were a struggle to keep above ground with wind speeds below 5 mph at many points during the weekend.
“Our kites were falling out of these skies,” said Boswell. “We were walking as fast as we could, but the wind just hasn’t been strong enough yet.”
Foul nature aside, all kite flyers remained in good spirits throughout the festival. The actual flying was just replaced by talk of flying. But either way, just being surrounded by kites takes many of the professionals back to where they were first introduced to the sport – their childhood.
“Most of us have been flying kites most of our lives,” said Boswell. “We started as kids and never quite grew out of it or we just came back around to it. There’s a joy in it you can’t quite find anywhere else.”
While many professional flyers take the art quite seriously, the End of the Line Kite Team have a philosophy that helps keep the sport low pressure even when placed under the heat of competition.
“We have a motto,” explained Boswell. “It’s family first, work second, and then kites. It keeps the team together. In fact, we really are more of a family than we are a team.”
As with any sport, there are national and even worldwide competitions that aim to trophy the most talented of the bunch. But, some might argue that this takes away from the whimsical, stress-free nature of the activity.
“We’ve competed nationally multiple times,” said Boswell. “When we were getting ready for our national competition we were practicing three times a week and even then we didn’t do so great. So, we find it makes a lot more sense to just have fun while flying.”
The End of the Line Kite Team has an admirable attitude, as did the crowd attending this year’s festival as it lacked some of the usual flashy attractions. Most notably was the infamous 300-foot octopus that sadly spent the majority of its time static on the green, needing at least 15 mph winds to take flight.
Hopefully next year’s weather conditions will be more conducive to flying, because according to Boswell it’s a sight everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
“The first time you see a show it’s magical,” said Boswell. “For us, it’s still magical.”