Sis Vogel from Grinnell here. Though not a member of IKE, my husband Dick & I consider ourselves good friends of IKE
Since we would really like to stay good friends of IKE, I decided to add a few words to this discussion in order to remedy some misunderstandings - & there seem to have been many along the way.
Late in 2007, Paul Schneider, the organizer for Balloons in June contacted us in TX because he had found the Kites Over Grinnell website & was interested in finding kite fliers from Iowa who might agree to fly kites at the 9th Annual Balloon Fest in Clinton. After MUCH back & forth to clarify the festival needs & the requirements of AKA for involvement, the following was agreed upon...
1) The airport was to be closed to all air traffic for the entire weekend (IT WAS NOT!)
2) We would participate & possibly bring some other kiters with us. Kite fliers were to fly only from noon until 4:00 p.m. on Sat. as we were told the grounds would be taken up with a volleyball tournament and the balloons themselves at all
other times. (THE TOURNAMENT WAS MOVED TO ANOTHER SITE & THE BALLOONS WERE ON THE FIELD ONLY TWICE - FOR A NIGHT GLOW ON FRIDAY & A TAKE OFF EARLY SUN MORNING.)
3) The organizers requested a referral to a kite vendor as there would be "thousands of people at the airfield all day each day" & we provided the contact info for our friend David at Chicago Kite. We left it up to the organizers to make that contact and arrangements as we were to be guests of the Balloon Fest - it was NOT to be a Kite Fest. (OUR NAMES WERE USED IN A WAY THAT LED TO THE BELIEF THAT THIS WAS TO BE OUR PROJECT)
There was much more in the area of "agreements" & actual conflicting results but the above is enough to mention.
The flying field itself was sandwiched between a runway & the tarmac to the hangars. Due to the rain, it had not been mowed for some time & therefore the longer grass hid the many holes that were in the area. (I found 2 almost knee deep the hard way!)
At the last minute, we were requested & did fly for about 1 hour late Friday afternoon before the balloons went on the field to prepare for the Night Glow. We flew on Sat. - just to have a good time flying as there were no spectators in attendance until mid afternoon when some families arrived looking for kids kite flying lessons. Evidently such lessons had been advertised. However, no one advised us & due to the restricted air space, cny child not related to a flier was not allowed to fly.
More of the public arrived in anticipation of the evening balloon lift-off shortly before the time we were told to leave the field for the same reason. Due to the winds, there was no lift - off so the public left. It should be said that there was great feedback from the spectators both for the hour on Fri. & the brief time on Sat.
There were only a few kite fliers in attendance... James from Davenport who we had met in Naperville & lives only half an hour from Clinton, David & Mike Hall, we Vogels & another couple from our area who is considering getting into kiting. The amount of room we were allotted was almost entirely taken up by we few.
So, why did I not spread the word about the event? It was not our event. The organizers asked for kite fliers from IOWA & I did contact some of them. And, MAINLY, both Dick & I questioned the strength/validity of some of the "agreements" from the very beginning. That DOES NOT mean we believe any of the organizers were being dishonest with us. It does mean that we believe they know all about balloons & balloon events but next to nothing about the needs & provisions for a kiting event. As it turned out, we were correct.
Would we go again if asked? Possibly. Like many others, we believe that a partnership between kites & balloons is full of promise. And, after our experience, we will look for other opportunities to form such partnerships. HOWEVER, we would do many things differently - first & formost, it would be a true partnership with concrete understandings & kiters in charge of the kite flying venue. When & if we are ever involved in anything like that, we WILL let as many people as possible know about the event - way ahead of time & encourage lots of participation.
Sorry this post is so long!! Sure hope we have not offended anyone!! Keep Smiling & Keep Flying!!