Westworld Saskatchewan

Summer 2012

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Bistro and kids' tent, I finally run across Bud Taylor at the end of a 600-metre hike. One of the celebrity fliers at Windscape 2011, Taylor explains that he started flying and building kites 22 years ago and loved it so much he turned it into a business, The Kite Guys, in his Airdrie, Alberta, hometown. " 'Kite' is my middle name," he says. Like so many of the fliers I meet, Taylor can't seem to stop laughing and smiling. Adjacent to Taylor's exhibit, Don Pell has filled an area the size of a city lot with his whimsical wind sculptures, their forged iron arms supporting colourful blown-glass balls that whirl and twirl around us. "I love doing this, coming to Windscape," Pell yells over the rising wind. He hasn't missed a festival since launching Wingnut Enterprizes in Bellevue, northeast of Saskatoon, four years ago. At the end of another path, outlined in hay bales, the public flying field extends another 200 metres or so, ending at a field of alfalfa. From there, it's farmland, range land and open prairie as far as the eye can see. It feels like a long way to Swift Current, nestled in the valley. I pause to scan the horizon, PRESENTS 16 W E S T W O R L D >> noting the inland grain terminals, the railway and the distant urban development. Yet the puffy, cotton-batten clouds scurrying across the sky seem close enough to touch. To the southwest, a white-topped cloud with an ominously dark underside looms up from the horizon. It reaches toward the festival site like an outstretched hand, still a long way off in the deep blue sky that surrounds the festival. The winds are getting stronger. Terence Côté, from Coronach, saw a poster advertising Windscape at his local library. Seeing that the dates coincided with his daughter's birthday, he decided to bring her and several friends to Swift Current for the festival. They got a kite for free, he says. Someone was walking by with an extra and kindly handed it to them. "That person said, 'It was given to me, and now I'm giving it to you,' " explains Côté. "So, I'll pass it on before I leave!" Watching me watch the sky, Côté adds: "It's a perfect day for scenery, a perfect day for wind!" Mike Shaw comes to Windscape every other year from his home in Bismarck, North Dakota. Like many dedicated festivalgoers, Shaw builds his own kites. Kite building can be an intricate process, I learn. Shaw works in appliqué and piecework techniques. Piecework is like stitching a quilt, with each panel cut to shape and sewn to the next. With appliqué, fabric is built up in layers, the design outlined in stitching, then cut to reveal each layer to produce the desired image or design. It can take 20 hours or more to build a kite, Shaw explains. The basic pattern typically goes quickly. The details take longer, with the pockets (where the spine and spars are inserted) and reinforcements taking the most time. Shaw says there can be 150 to 250 individual pieces in the construction of some kites. Bernhard Dingwerth travelled from Germany just to attend Windscape. No surprise, not when I learn that he travelled to 14 countries last year to fly his kites. Although he's flown in Canada before, this is his first time in Swift Current and his first kite festival in Canada. "It's my hobby," he says. "Travelling [to fly kites] is different than being a tourist. You are with the people, not at 'tourist' places. Kite fliers from around the world are like a big family." Looking around, Dingwerth notes that "the wind is a bit strong today." We both let our eyes linger on the dark cloud I saw earlier. It's closer now, a tall, anvil-shaped cumulonimbus. Grey streaks of rain angle beneath it. SUMMER 2012 p14-19_Getaways_OutAbout.indd 16 4/13/12 11:49:51 AM

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