Windscape soars high thanks to near ideal kite flying weather

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While the local weather provided one of the best wind conditions for a Windscape Kite Festival, the weather still had a major impact on the SaskTel Windscape Kite Festival on June 22 and 23.

While dark skies threatened during Saturday's opening day at the ninth annual kite festival, Swift Current's weather did cooperate for a pair of great flying days. Swift Current benefited from good weather while rains and flooding made weekend headlines in Calgary and other portions of Alberta, but that unprecedented weather did have an impact on the festival.

"I think we had about 6,000 to 7,000 people over the weekend, which was less than I wanted, but I think we were hurt quite a bit by the flooding in Alberta. I know that at least one hotel lost about half of their bookings. That kind of hurt us, but that's life," explained Festival Organizer Shann Gowan.

Ironically, for the days leading up to the kite festival, the weather forecast had been calling for rain and damp conditions.

"We were going to have an awful weekend if we had depended on the forecast on Wednesday. As it turned out we just had a 10 minute rain. We had great weather. Lots of flying. Lots of big kites up," Gowan said while overseeing a crew of workers during tear down day on Monday.

"I think it was one of the better flying kite festivals we've ever had. And we had lots of big stars here this year so that was kind of nice."

While the festival is intended to draw visitors from across the prairie provinces and northern United States, Gowan would like to see additional support from right in Swift Current.

"Half our audience is always from out of town. It's kind of shocking. I think everybody should come out. I mean it's free! It doesn't take anything to come, so you've just got to make the effort. And I think everybody's really pleasantly surprised when they finally get up here and have a look. I know that we impress people from everywhere else, so people from Swift Current should check it out because it's worth coming to."

She highlighted a series of the many colourful exhibitors during the two-day festival, with the large kites and unique flying designs of the No Limit Team from Germany immediately catching the eye of all visitors.

Scott Hampton from Utah had a beautiful ground display of brightly coloured banners, while Jose Sainz from San Diego, California launched his interesting kites in the air on both days.

Spectators were treated to impressive dual line flying exhibitions and impressive choreographed-to-music routines. Team Too Much Fun returned for another year to showcase their versatile flying abilities. Windscape was also fortunate to attract spectacular young flier Tristan Underwood who recently gained national exposure during an appearance on Canada’s Got Talent.

"And then all my regulars who come every single year, they just keep upping their game and it always looks just amazing. It was fun. It was a really great festival."

On the ground, there was a larger selection of activities for youngsters attending Windscape. One tent was dedicated to kids activities including kite making and face painting, and attractions like the straw bale maze and mystery sandpile were constantly busy.

"The juggling tent went over really well," Gowan added. "Teaching kids how to juggle was a bit of a learning curve for us. The Kiwanis supported it and it turned our real nice.

"All the kids activities were really well attended, and everything went really good, so we were really happy."

The family family entertainer featured at Windscape was a last minute substitution, with Regina's Al Simmons bringing along his trunk of props to entertain after Gustavo The Impossibilist had his Calgary studio flooded.

"I was thrilled when Al Simmons drove through the night to be here, which was a spectacular thing for Al to do. He came at the very last minute and pulled through for us. But he put on four really good shows," Gowan said.

The big tent at the Windscape grounds at Marston St. and 11th Ave. S.W. also hosted three of the four concerts during the Long Day's Night Music Festival.

The festival's grand finale concert by Juno award winner Serena Ryder was moved from the tent to the Living Sky Casino's Sky Centre because of the stage requirements for her concert.

"Serena at the casino was phenomenal so that was a spectacular show," Gowan said while raving about the sound quality and the lighting. "She does a beautiful concert. It was really, really fun."

Moving out of the tent also provided the festival working team with a much needed break.

"It was nice for us and our staff, to get out of the heat and get out of the tent for an evening and take it easy before we had to come clean-up today. So it worked all around."

The first three nights of the Festival were also quality performances.

"We had some really great music this time. It was a good weekend."

Gowan noted that there was something for everybody, ranging from reggae the opening night courtesy of Taj Weekes & Adowa, Old Man Markley kept the dance floor full during their Friday performance, while the hard driving party band Hollerado brought an incredible energy to the tent during their sold out show on Saturday.

Following a successful 2013, the organizers are now turning their attention to their 10th annual festival in 2014.

"It'll be our tenth one next year, so it gets bigger and better every year," Gowan said. "We'll have to maybe up our game a bit so we'll have to see what happens."

Organizations: SaskTel

Geographic location: San Diego, California, Swift Current, Calgary Alberta United States Germany Utah Canada

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