‘Paint that sky’
Sky Fest’s return draws huge crowd to Fort Stevenson
By Iain Woessner
A flight of dragons took to the skies over Fort Stevenson for the first time ever on a bright and balmy Saturday afternoon, forming an even stack and delighting a crowd of hundreds – all part of the dazzling display of kites at this year’s Sky Fest.
“I’ve never seen a dragon stack before,” Rena Rustad, event planner for Sky Fest, said. “It’s never been flown before on this field.”
This year’s Sky Fest saw professional kite flyers from as far away as Oregon come out to Garrison to challenge our prairie winds and showcase their incredible kite designs, including the aforementioned dragons and a 90-foot-long gecko. Phil Burks and David Wetchler worked alongside Chris Dodson of Minot to help bring these mythological beasts off the ground, using a complex series of anchors and pulleys to elevate them to the skies.
“It’s not an official team, but we all come together at a festival like this … (to) form a homogeneous troop to paint that sky and put smiles on faces,” Burks said. “We’re always learning from each other.”
Wetchler hails from Vancouver, Wash and has been flying kites his whole life. He described the process of developing your kite-flying skills over a period of time.
“Your first kite … you learn how to fly that and then you go out and meet people,” Wetchler said. “And you learn how to fly bigger and bigger kites.”