Kites soar, indoors and out, at Port Allen festival

The wind was strong and steady on Saturday at the 10th annual Kite Fest Louisiane in Port Allen as a sky filled with colorful kites jolted back and forth in the air. But that didn’t matter to a group of flyers called the Rev Riders.

Scott Weider, a Rev Rider member from Warwick, R.I., and world champion kite flyer, didn’t need wind, nor did he want any, because his kite performance took place indoors.

“It’s magic; it really is magic,” Weider said of his kite demonstration in the Port Allen High School gymnasium. “It’s a full-body performing art, and I’m at one with my partner, which in this case is a kite.”

Weider gently glided his kite in the air only feet from spectators to the sound of music. By anticipating the kite’s next move and using careful precision, he pulled and tugged on the strings to fly with ease without wind. Actually, any wind would disrupt his performance.

The demonstration is called ballet and is dubbed so because of the fluid motion and synchronization of the kite and its handler to music.

What makes an indoor kite different from those flown outside are wrapped graphite rods and a lighter, shorter line. Void of wind to lift the kite, the design must be as light as possible.

The Rev Riders had traveled from New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere to showcase their expertise with kites and ballet flying for festivalgoers, who also were scattered about the grounds of the West Baton Rouge Soccer Complex outside the gym.

Participants of all ages were gazing to the sky, most flying kites of their own.

“You use the string to hold up the kite and run with it, then it floats in the air so you can fly it,” said Kyle Patrick, 11, of Baton Rouge, explaining how he got his Transformers kite into the air.

Patrick, along with family members, was taking advantage of the strong wind and cloudy, yet rainless morning.

Jaylynn Knighten, 8, and Tedreiona McGee, 7, both from Baton Rouge, flew their Barbie kites alongside Patrick. When the wind sent their kites zooming toward the ground, they would quickly do as Patrick explained to get them launched back into the air for more fun.

All three were amazed at the enormity of some of the kites, like Gaston the alligator or Gumbeaux the octopus.

“They are a lot of work to handle,” said Jason Wheeler, of Pensacola, Fla., referring to the massive kites. “They can be dangerous. I have seen them take grown men out when the wind picks up.”

But the concern was nil, Wheeler said, as only the most skilled kite handlers fly the gigantic creatures.

Wheeler is a member of the Emerald Coast Kite Flyers Club, which is based out of Florida. The group travels to events all around the country and makes a point to make it to the festival in Louisiana, he said.

“The festival has done a lot for the sport of kiting,” he said.

Weider expressed a similar sentiment about the festival, which he said is one of the unique events he travels to around the world. The fact that the West Baton Rouge Visitors Bureau markets the event to not only kite enthusiasts but those who have may never flown a kite in their lives, does a lot for kiting, he said.

“This is a different convention in that it’s put on for the average person to see what kites are about,” he said. “It’s geared toward educating the public.”