Discover PA: Go fly a kite!

Even with the threat of heavy rain and thunderstorms, I made my way over to the Twelfth Annual Fun Fly Kite Festival this past Saturday, hosted by the Markets at Shrewsbury, outside of Glen Rock, PA.

It took only a matter of minutes for me to quickly realize how little I knew about kite flying.

The evidence -- a black and white, four-stringed, sport kite doing a nose dive into the hillside, handed to me by a professional kiteflier named Lisa -- not to mention my ignorant comment, “why don’t you just start running to get your kite into the air?” -- altogether, these made me look like a newbie amateur.

Thank goodness for people like Todd Little, Keystone Kiters president and one of the original event organizers. He was kind enough to be my kite coach and go-to guy for the day.

“I’ve been flying kites for a very long time,” Todd commented, “and I have close to a hundred different kinds.” He continued, “When I first started out, I used to buy kites, but now I make my own. Flying kites can be an expensive hobby if you buy all of your kites.”

It became apparent that making your own kite gives the activity a sense of ownership and pride. Todd placed second in the 2011 American Kitefliers Association National Convention’s “Themed-Kites Category” with six different kites fashioned around the Wizard of Oz. “I lost to a  red, white, and blue themed kite’s always hard to beat the American flag,” Mr. Little replied.

Throughout the day, a spectrum of colors filled the sky coming from all different kinds of kites. One of the most popular being “fighter kites”.

Lisa Stambaugh, a kite flying professional, demonstrated how these kites worked as she tried taking down her opponent flyer by wrapping the kite’s string around the other kite’s line, and then pulling it to the ground. “This is by far my favorite kind of flying,” Lisa said, “and it’s really exciting when you use glass-coated string to do battle.” (Note: Glass-coated line is not used in the U.S. and is consider dangerous if left lying around.)

Fighter kites originated in India and Afghanistan and have gained immense popularity over the years in places like Bangladesh, Koren, and even the United States. You may be familiar with kite fighting if you have read the book (or seen the movie), The Kite Runner, if not, click here to see a clip.

Overall, this festival was a blast! And after the day was done, I walked away with a sunburn, a greater appreciation for the craft of kiting, and desire enter a kite fighting tournament. It’s official -- I’m addicted to kiting.

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Be sure to check out these links to learn more:
American Kitefiers Association:
Keystone Kiters:
Make your own kite:

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