It figures the one day people wanted good, strong winds in Minot, they didn't come. That still didn't stop participants in Minot's first-ever kite fly from turning out in hope of taking advantage of one of the area's most abundant natural resources.
The kite fly was held at Maysa Arena from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and will be held again today. Rollie Metz, one of the organizers, said there isn't a set time for people to come out to Maysa and fly today. He will probably be there around 7 a.m. and go as long as there are good winds and people to fly with. So whether it's morning, afternoon or possibly even evening, he invites people to come on down and fly a kite.
Spectators are, of course, welcome to come watch the fun, and for those who don't have a kite but would like to participate, a vendor with Prairie Wind Kite Co. is on hand to sell all manner of colorful kites and fans.
Dan Feldner/MDN • Rollie Metz’s 50-foot alligator kite achieves full flight Saturday during the kite fly at Maysa Arena. With light winds all day long, there weren’t many opportunities to get larger kites like this one airborne.
Paul Luetzen, another organizer, said the kite fly in Minot came together pretty quickly, and they are thankful to the Minot Park District for letting them use the space at Maysa and to Minot Convention & Visitors Bureau for helping to advertise the event.
"This was kind of spur-of-the-moment," Luetzen said.
"Yeah, we'll do it and see what happens," Metz added.
Metz said the idea for a kite fly in Minot came about with the help of Rena Rustad, the kite vendor with Prairie Wind Kite Co. He said they always seemed to bump into each other at the many kite events around the state, including ones at Lake Sakakawea, Jamestown, Devils Lake, Parshall and Beulah, and thought Minot could use some windy fun as well.
"The idea was just to kind of fill out the calendar a bit," Metz said. "People in Minot for years have been wanting a kite fly, but it's always been tough to find the ideal location. I've been driving by (Maysa) for years but I really didn't realize how big it was until I actually came out and looked at it."
Metz said he often flies on the football field at Jim Hill Middle School or at Polaris Park, and it can often get crowded at those places on a windy day.
The turnout was light on Saturday because there wasn't much wind. With only a handful of kites in the air at any one time, passers-by aren't as likely to stop and take a look. Metz is hoping today will be better, as the forecast is for more wind. He said once a few kites get airborne together, it provides quite a spectacle that people can't help but stop to look at.
Metz has several large, impressive kites. He has a 30-foot clown fish kite inspired by the "Little Nemo" movie and a 50-foot alligator kite. He calls those kites "laundry" because they are attached to the lines of kites higher in the air that provide much of the lift to get everything airborne.
Metz said there are some kites that have so much lift that on a windy day he has to attach the line to his pickup truck and slowly drive them to the ground because it isn't physically possible for him to do it by himself. Metz's wife, Elaine, noted she was once lifted 50 feet into the air by a large kite before she was able to land safely back on the ground.
Luetzen is hoping to get that kind of lift today so he can ride around in his wheeled buggy. He said going down the slight hill on the land next to Maysa isn't too much trouble, but the wind has to be really strong for him to have any hope of going back up.
Owain Schooling was flying a Prism Tensor power kite with good success. He said the kite can provide 400 pounds of lift and can be used for traction sports like snowboarding and wakeboarding.
"Some of these you can hook up a harness and go snowboarding, ice skating, use them to pull you across a frozen lake and stuff like that," Schooling said. "You can hook up a buggy to them with the harness and go across land."
He was using a two-handle system with the kite that allowed for very precise control, which was readily evident as he dove the kite close to the ground before lifting it back into the sky.
He noted the handles can actually be easily fitted into a handlebar assembly that doesn't provide as much fine control but is easier to maneuver for beginners.
Schooling said if you're not careful, the kite is very capable of lifting a person into the air, which is why he was constantly leaning back against the kite to provide more downward force as it raced skyward.
Like Metz and Luetzen, Schooling said he usually flies his kite at Jim Hill. He said the wind at Maysa was more predictable than at Jim Hill, providing for an easier kite-flying experience.
Metz and Luetzen are hoping to make this an annual event in Minot, possibly during the second weekend in July. They are on the lookout for more sponsors to help grow the event, and anyone interested can give Metz a call at 721-6146. Metz said they would like to get some portable bathrooms for next year so participants don't have to walk all the way to Maysa Arena to find a restroom. In addition, food and drink vendors would also be a welcome addition to give the weekend a more festive atmosphere and allow families to spend as much time there as they want without having to go hungry.
Schooling was thoroughly enjoying himself Saturday and hopes more people will come out in the future to enjoy one of North Dakota's most abundant natural resources.
"It's been good, a good event. I wish there were more people here, but it's the first annual, so what do you expect?" Schooling said. "We've got a natural resource. Take advantage of it. You've got plenty of wind in this state. Use it."