International Kite Festival is underway in Dieppe
Choose between aerial kite fights and more serene choreographed demonstrations at the annual kite fest
One of the largest kite festivals in North America kicked off Wednesday in Dieppe. It attracts over 100 kite flyers from all over the globe. It will see some 500 kites take to the skies before it wraps Aug. 14.
Boston-based kite maker and flyer Wadson Michel is attending for his the eighth time. To him the Dieppe festival is like the Olympics of kite flying.
He represents his native Haiti by flying traditional Haitian-style kites.
"It's a six-sided kite always with tails and fringe on the side. Kiting in Haiti is a symbol of hope," he said.
"Everybody, young and old, we all fly kites, especially at Easter."
There's a competitive element to kiting as well.
Michel squared off in Rokkaku combat, a battle where flyers use Japanese-style kites to try to cut each other's lines.
"It's a very fierce competition, all nations come to compete, to represent their countries to get the bragging rights of being the winner."
Michel says kite fighting is a little different in Haiti.
"In Haiti we use the [Haitian] style kite, on the tails we put razor blades. With the razor blades, we're able to cut each others lines."
Choreographed kite flying
If the frenetic air battles aren't for you, the festival also offers choreographed kite flying routines.
Gary Maynard of Detroit is a member of the Windjammers kite team.
"We do a kite performance similar to the Bluebirds or the Canadian Snowbirds, where everything's choreographed to music and we have manoeuvres that we fly."
He's participated in festivals in Dubai, Singapore and France. Recently his team taught children kite manoeuvres in Jamaica.
Maynard said the team formed in 1983.
"I was out riding my bike one day," he recalled.
"I watched a guy fly kites and a car full of girls went over to go talk to him and I figured : 'What the heck, you can't beat that!' and it must have worked because that's how I met my wife," he laughed.
Donna Taylor of Port Colburne, Ontario, has been sewing her own kites for years now.
"The kids would go through the books, and they'd say "Can we make this one mom?" and I'd say "Sure! Let's give it a try!"
"I like the whimsy in kites, I like the laugh," she says.
Some of the colourful, whimsical kites on display this year were a penguin, a beaver and even a set of eyeballs.
The festival is more than a spectator activity. If you attend you can learn how to make kites, as well as purchase and fly your own.