Have you ever seen a giant crocodile fly? Is that a pair of legs floating in the air? These might be odd questions, but so are the kites getting flown in Algoma.
On Aug. 19, the third annual Soar on the Shore kiting event will be held a block south of downtown at Crescent Beach. The day of kiting is organized by the Friends of Crescent Beach and the Algoma Area Chamber of Commerce, with help from Unique Flying Objects (UFO) kite shop of Two Rivers, Wis., and the Wisconsin Kiters Club.
Cathy Pabich, president of the Friends of Crescent Beach, said they started hosting the event as a way to draw positive attention to Algoma’s prime beach location.
“We put our heads together just as we were getting started [as a Friends group]… It really put our effort, our group, and our beach on the map in a whole new way,” she said of the first year of the event. Despite poor weather last year, turnout was still good and the festival was extended for another day, allowing the storm to pass and the kites to fly on the second day.
Though attendees are welcome to bring their own kites, the real attractions are the kites that are brought in by UFO and the members of the Wisconsin Kiters Club.
“If anybody hasn’t been to a kite festival, they’d be amazed at the types of kites,” Chow Chong, owner of UFO, said. Professional kiters will be flying a wide array of models, including giant inflatables and kites that can carry and then drop candy. There are even stunt kites which are manipulated to do stunts choreographed to music.
UFO also sponsors a kite festival in Two Rivers called Kites Over Lake Michigan, which is in its 12th year.
Think you need high winds for kiting? Not exactly. Serious kiters have a range of kites that perform in different wind conditions, from wider lightweight models for low wind to heavier high-wind models that have vents to cut down on drag.
The main attraction of Soar on the Shore is complemented by a range of other family friendly activities, including kite building and beach mosaic making. There will also be a DJ and food and beverage stalls, so all you need to bring is your beach equipment and some sunscreen.
Promotion of Crescent Beach as a destination for both residents and visitors is central to the Friends group’s vision for the area.
“One very clear message that we got from the stakeholder’s meeting during the planning process was that we shouldn’t just be an organization that holds meetings and talks,” Pabich said. “The community wanted us to be an organization that did something.”
What resulted was an opportunity to come out and enjoy a beautiful summer day at the beach, while appreciating the spectacle of an octopus flowing in the wind above you.
The Friends group, founded in Spring of 2015, is a member of the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership, a network of environmental groups dedicated to conservation of the natural world in northeast and east central Wisconsin. The partnership offers support to smaller organizations to help them realize their goals.
“They really provide us with the structure and expertise we needed to become an organization that’s both effective and sustainable over the long run,” she said. “They’re very important to us.”
As a nonprofit, they rely upon generous donors and community support to finance all of their programs. All we have to do is show up and enjoy the show they’ve put on for us on Algoma’s shore.