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Ray's World Adventures 2000

Germany Adventure 2000
11th Syke Kite Festival

The change in Dieppe's Festival date had an impact on dates of festivals in Germany, so there was quite a mix-up on my calendar. Rearranging my sponsored invitations for September was quite a chore. I usually have the air flight tickets and itineraries weeks ahead of time. On checking my E-mail early one morning I found a message from Germany, with the subject heading: "Ray is coming" and the message read:

"You leave for Bremen Germany in 5 hours. The tickets are waiting for you at the Vancouver Airport. I will be waiting for you at Bremen Airport tomorrow morning. Have a good flight. Matthias."

I wonder how many of you can arrange things at home, pack 25 kites, tails, lines, suitcase, etc., make it to the airport which is 45 minutes away, and catch a plane, all in 5 hours. I think this must be another record! It was a 9 hour flight to Amsterdam, a 4 hour layover, and a 1hour flight to Bremen, so I had time to catch my breath, and think?. When will this madness end? I have been asked this question many times by the media and also by kite fliers. Is it worth it?

I mean, I have already traveled "down under" for 6 weeks, with 7 flights across Australia, Madison, South Padre Island, Wildwood, 3 trips to California, Long Beach WA, Alberta, 2 international kite festivals in the UK, 2 in France plus many more. Now Germany, next week Marseilles, France, then home just in time to take off again to Florida for the Nationals! Looking back, I savor all those beautiful memories, meeting and making friends with literally hundreds of wonderful people, having the incredible opportunity to fly with some of the best kite fliers on this planet, the honor and thrill of seeing thousands of spectators jumping up and down, waving, clapping their hands in appreciation after watching my performances, the thrill and honor of being carried shoulder high around the flying area by one's peers...

Is it worth it? You betcha! Worth every long hour of loneliness while waiting, sometimes for hours on end, for connecting flights, every arm-aching minute of carrying my kite bag to the hundreds of flying arenas. Another thing I am very sure of is the more I travel the more I find the world is full of beautiful people? So, will this madness ever end? I certainly hope not!

This was my second time to the town of Syke, which means "valley of many waters". It is a very peaceful and beautiful town. My hosts, once again, were Matthias and his lovely wife Monika Coreds. Matthias is the organizer of the Syke kite festival. He also works 12 hours a day at his bakery, a fourth generation master baker, whose bakery makes bread etc., that is shipped all over Germany. His home is above the bakery, so once again I woke up each morning to the smell of fresh baked bread, cakes etc. What a way to start the day, with fresh baked rolls smeared with butter and a choice of all kinds of sliced meats and cheeses and washed down with hot coffee. After breakfast it was off to the flying field 2 miles from town in a small suburb called Heililigenfeld. The festival is held on a huge open grass area, rented each year from one of the local farmers by the Syke kite club.

The field was in the process of being set up for the two day festival. It was great to meet and work with all the club members whom I had met last year. We soon had the work done and then sat around reminiscing about last year's festival. The weather forecast for the Saturday did not look too good.

Well, the weather man was right. Saturday morning started with light showers but by noon the weather cleared up. The wind was very light but, no worries, I had my new Pro Dancers with beautiful appliquéd Maple Leaf graphics, made by Jon Trennepohl and designed and sewn by the one and only Pam Kirk. (The Pro Dancers have proven, over and over again, to be my life saver when asked to open a kite festival with a multiple ballet in just about zero wind.) So let the festival begin! Before long, kite fliers were displaying and flying every kind of kite that could fly in the low wind. Thomas Getheroefer , "Professional Disc Jockey", was there with his huge mobile music system from Hamburg, playing music to suit the wind conditions. Hundreds of spectators started to arrive. The news media was there interviewing kite fliers who had come from all over Germany. It turned out to be a pretty good first day.

Sunday morning arrived with sunshine, and 5-mph wind, just enough to fill the blue sky with kites of every description and show off the awesome graphics and colors. This festival provided entertainment to suit just about everyone. North German Boomerang Champions, Klaus Dieter, Sascha Winkler, and Christian Meyer put on boomerang throwing demonstrations, and the workshops were a huge success with children and adults alike. These guys can throw 5 boomerangs consecutively and catch every one of them as they return. The wind dropped a little late in the afternoon, which gave the hot air balloon team leader, Horst Siener, and his team time to set up and get ready to take flight carrying the very lucky spectators who were chosen. Just watching them setting up and inflating the huge balloons was a thrill in itself and a great crowd pleaser.

I had just finished a multiple kite ballet in the main area when Matthias Coreds came over with other kite fliers and said, "Ray, are you ready for this year's surprise we have planned for you?" (Last year it was an awesome 2 1/2 hour hot air balloon flight across the North German country side.) One guy said, "I will look after your kites. Go for it Ray."

I was taken to the other end of the festival site, and on the way I was wondering what was in store for me. We came to a halt in front of a beautiful ultra light aircraft (a motor propelled hangglider). I was introduced to Wilhelm Clausing who soon had me dolled up in a flight suit and helmet. Crowds had gathered, the photographers were busy, and I was asked by a reporter, "Are you not a little scared?" I said, "If I can jump from a plane at 16,000 ft with no problem, this will be a piece of cake." What am I saying?! In my excitement, I have already broken wind a couple of times! The pilot said he was sure glad I would be sitting behind him. I wonder what he meant?

The pilot sure knew his stuff. The flight was better than awesome, looking down over the countryside at 500 plus feet ?then swooping low over the festival site. Every minute was exhilarating and thrilling, and the landing was as smooth as a baby's bum. What a wonderful surprise from the members of the Syke kite club and the sponsors! But it was not over yet. Later on, I was given another hot air balloon trip, complements of the Syke Balloon Club. It sure cannot get better than this, or can it? It makes me wonder what they are planning for next year's surprise.

European kite festivals are a lot different than ones in North America. Things happen so fast, it is difficult to keep track of it all. There is a wonderful family feeling at all the German kite festivals; they not only cater to kite fliers but also to children of all ages, with workshops, kite flying lessons, etc. Everyone works together and there is never a shortage of volunteers. Even the children help with collecting dishes and glasses, and washing up in the food and beer marquees. And talk about food!! All the kite fliers' wives, sisters and mothers must spend hours making and baking all those mouth watering homemade cakes and pies. I love gooseberry pie. I remember the ones my mother used to make when I was a young lad. Someone last year saw how I loved gooseberry pie and this year they made sure they made extra just for me. Good Stuff!

I could go on for hours telling you about this festival. Once again, I extend my thanks to Weser Kurier (the local newspaper) and all the other sponsors (too numerous to mention), the Syke Kite Club, Syke Balloon Club, the ultra-light flying club, the North German Boomerang club, and the kite fliers who came from all over Germany to participate. Working together as a team, we were able to make the 11th Syke Kite Festival another huge success. Last, but by far not the least, Matthias and Monika Coreds, and Detlev Marqardt, I thank you for your hospitality and friendship, and for sharing your homes and families.

Thank you for listening,


Read Ray's other kite festival adventures:

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