Soaring success

First-time flyers and dedicated fanatics gather at Lynch Canyon

It drew over three hundred people: first-time kite flyers and seasoned kite enthusiasts, grandparents and grandkids, dedicated docents and supporters and people taking their first steps on a land trust property.  It happened against the background of improving news on the pandemic—and it concluded mere hours before a Red Flag warning went into effect.

Full of celebration and hope, inflected by caution, the Lynch Canyon Kite Festival of 2021 was very 2021.

The American Kitefliers Association members arrived early and staked their AKA banners at the far end of the field. The association holds events throughout California as well as rotating national gatherings. Since the pandemic, they’ve been flying kites Saturdays at the Berkeley Marina—but that’s been about it. This was the first kiting event since Covid-19 that had not been canceled.

They candidly discussed the “gusty, sporadic” wind conditions, which weren’t ideal to lift some of the huge showstopper kites. But they brought back-ups.

“The people you see here,” said Darril dela Torre, Director of AKA Region 11. “We’ve got basements full of kites. We still have our gateway kites.”

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And before the event official began, the group enjoyed a unique audience: several cows had settled themselves with interest on the ridge.

The first kite up in the air came from their crew: a premiere power-sled kite (which has no lateral poles). It soared in the air above staff and volunteers as they readied the registration tent and pop-up store. They had their own challenges securing things against the wind—the donation box blew across the table with two horseshoes set inside it.

Grandparents Albert and Joan brought their granddaughter Nadia. They were the first family to get a kite into the air—and it was Nadia’s first time flying a kite. Albert works at the Jelly Belly Factory. He saw the Lynch Canyon sign many times before following it off the highway.

Soon the field was full of kite fliers of all ages, and Ozcat Radio DJ George Da Plumma spun “Pacific Vibes” music that matched the tropical display of darting colors and streamer-legged octopi.

Yata, from Fairfield, had a dragon-shaped kite. She was new to the area and intrigued by the possibility of taking hikes at other open spaces. 

Several horse riders made cinematic appearances across the trails. Around noon, Folklorico Juvenil Danzantes Unidos de Vacaville performed. These high school students performed dances representing the state of Jalisco. They wore beautiful custom suits and tricolor dresses for the occasion. Sandra Trujillo, their director, explained how participating students find a “discipline and a venue for athleticism.” They danced upon grassy uneven terrain with studied grace.

Kenny Riley, a new docent, was doing Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) on a classic delta kite. He’s been a Land Trust docent for a few months. He enjoyed finding angles for photographs only a kite can achieve, and explained the practical, surveying uses of KAP that happened long before any of “this drone stuff” took off.

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Kenny’s kite might have held the title for soaring height were it not for the famous “Kite Man of Martinez” Tony Jetland.  Jetland has collected over 400 kites and developed a following flying them for “kite therapy” from the Martinez marina. He’d arrived mere days after the Mayor of Martinez formally proclaimed April 21, 2021 “Tony Jetland Day.” The Kite Man’s flotilla of fishes swam through the sky and soared above the I-80 Interstate.

Back at the display booth was a picture commemorating the late Michael Don Rydjord, a docent and supporter who in 2008 helped found and organize the first Kite Fest, and whose family visited the event.

What Michael had to work with was protected open land, and that’s still where the magic is today. There’d be no festival without protected land and a community engaged in understanding and celebrating the value of open spaces.

Every day, our properties give people opportunities to appreciate what they’ve protected. But the Lynch Canyon Kite Festival manages something special: it takes the community’s love of land and waves it up into the heavens.

Photos by Kuo Hou Chang and Samuel Adams.