Thursday before the South Padre Island Kite Festival, Bill and Susie Doan of B&S Kites (the festival organizers) host a special indoor performance for the public. Unlike Windless Kite Festival, which is mainly a competition, this is a performance. The invited fliers are hand picked from the top tier of performers in the states. They are expected to be professional, fun, and engage the crowd. This isn't about showing off, this is about entertaining the crowd.... and I LOVE IT!!!
As with almost every other year that they have had the event, the show sells out days in advance. This year they had around 850 people in the seats, with a few hundred others on the waiting list hoping to get in. It was packed... at capacity... and it looks like next year they are going to try and expand even more.
Here is a short video of what the indoor performance looked like. Because of copyright issues it is unlikely that the full performances will be posted online. But, we can try! Stay tuned to my youtube channel and see if we are able to get them uploaded. :)
What struck me about this event is what happened the following days. While we were out on the kite field, several spectators came up to us and told us how moving our performance was, and how much they enjoyed it. It goes to show the power of a well organized, well attended event replete with good talent and good performers.
Watching over the years, it seems that one of the pitfalls many events fall into is not placing a special emphasis on either the organization, the talent, or the performance. Or a combination of the three. The bar for stepping on to the center stage is dropped so low that we allow everyone into the center ring that is willing to do it. This in turn, allows those that are simply not up to par on either their technical or performance skills to be front and center. We are placing our expectations of capturing and keeping the public's attention on those that are woefully unprepared to do so.
But... the argument can be made that it is better to have something instead of nothing.
I understand the dilemma. We are at a weird space in our collective kite history where there simply is not enough fliers that can meet that bare minimum of performance and technical skill that would capture/retain the audience attention. Yet, most fliers remember a time when the fields were busting at the seams with top level fliers. So there is a battle between nostalgia and grassroots development for the new folks. What is best for the sport? I don't know... and I don't think anyone has really figured this out yet.... If they had, things would perhaps look different.
Let me take a side step here and expand on the 'Good Performers' portion. You can be the most talented person out there, but without a nod to performing, you are boring to watch. A great performer can cover the fact that they have very little technical skill and the audience will love it. In a rather oversimplified way I look at 'talented flier' as the ability to fly for yourself; and a 'good performer' as one the ability to fly for others.
But, I digress. The point is, that the Indoor show at South Padre is one of those that ticks the three major boxes.
Fliers are Performers
That is perhaps the key that other events should be looking to if they want to host a successful event, or if they are looking at longevity.