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May 1, 2011

'Kite Komotion' in Shipshewana

SHIPSHEWANA — As she watched nearly 50 kites in the air during the first-ever “Kite Komotion Clinic and Festival” Saturday in Shipshewana, event organizer Jamie Breniser only had one small quibble.

“It’s too windy,” she said.

The kite festival was joint venture between LaGrange Communities Youth Centers Inc. and Head Over Heels, an outdoor adventure store inside the Davis Mercantile Building in downtown Shipshe. Head over Heels sells, among other items, kites. Breniser, owner of the store, said that the vision for the event began nearly three years ago.

“We began learning more about what we could do with kites, and the idea kinda grew from there,” Breniser said.

After visiting various kite festivals throughout the Midwest and talking with members of the Hoosier Kite Society and the American Kite Association, workers began to put the plan into action.

Typically wind is a friend of kite flyers, but Saturday’s strong gusts provided more than just a gentle spring breeze.

“Ten to 15 miles per hour is about ideal for kite flying. Anything past 20 and you can’t fly some of the bigger kites,” Breniser said.

According to Laurie Sherck, who helped organize the event, the first go-round for the event proved to be quite successful, weather aside.

“This is a much better turnout than what we thought we might get,” Sherck said of the nearly 2,000 people that came to the event.

The first 200 children who attended the free event were able to build their own kites with the help members of the Hoosier Kiteflyers Association, then watch their creations take to the skies. Among the other entertainment were international kite teams The Windjammers and Chicago Fire, who performed kite tricks set to music, and a candy drop for children.

“It’s amazing how they can do all those tricks and not get strings tangled up,” said Beverly Elliott of LaGrange, who brought her 3-year-old son Remington to the event.

Kite flying is not just for kids, however, according to Jerry McGuire, a member of the America Kiteflyers Association.

“Sometimes adults enjoy the kite flying as much as the kids do,” he said.

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