My first adventure in kite flying in China took place 30 years ago when I accompanied the American Kitefliers delegation to the 4th Annual Weifang International Kite Festival in 1987. Our group was led by the legendary David Checkley (1917-1988) of Seattle, a kite enthusiast extraordinaire, who had worked with the City of Weifang in the early 1980s to establish an international event at their annual national kite flying festival and competition. In early 2017 I began planning a trip to Dalian to see my son and daughter in law, Chris and Lynn Mockford who were expecting a baby boy in April. Noticing that the 2017 Weifang Kite Festival would be held April 15-17 I wrote to Mr. Liu Zhiping, Director Weifang International Kite Festival about the event and I was happily surprised to receive an invitation to join them as an “old and distinguished friend” 30 years after my first visit to Weifang.
In 1987 I at 4th Annual Weifang International Kite Festival I had won the award “One of the Top Ten Kitefliers in the World” and along with a certificate I was presented a wonderful Chinese dragon kite trophy that I donated to the World Kite Museum in Long Beach, Washington. It was an appropriate home for the Weifang Kite because the museum contains the David Checkley Collection of Asian Kites that number over 700 kites from China, Japan, Thailand and other Asian countries that the Checkley’s donated to the museum initiating its establishment and making it a must see attraction at Long Beach Washington during the annual Washington State Kite Festival held annually in August as well as offering a variety of programs year round. The museum’s founding executive director Kay Buesing and her husband Jim were also members of our 1987 Kite flying delegation to China. Kay retired from the museum in the past year but continues to be involved and is known to Kitefliers around the world who attended the Washington State Kite Festival at Long Beach over the years. Therefore I carried a few simple World Kite Museum kites with me to fly in China and promote the museum that has the largest collection of Asian Kites and is a testimony to over 30 years of goodwill and friendship between China and the USA. See http://www.worldkitemuseum.com/ .
As I was making arrangements to visit Weifang again Mr. Liu sent me another surprising invitation to come to China a week earlier and join him and other international kite delegates to the First Dunhuang International Kite Festival held April 8-9 in Gansu Province at the gateway to The Silk Road. We were enticed by the opportunity to visit the fabulous Mogao Caves and Singing Sand Mountain at Crescent Lake, an oasis in the midst of Sand Dunes as The Silk Road leaves Gansu Province for its long western journey across Xinjiang. So we moved our departure dates up in order to travel over 1,000 miles west from Beijing to Dunhuang and we got ready to fly our kites from the Silk Road to the sea!
See story in the Northwest China Council Newsletter