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Weifang kite festival attracts international hobbyists (3)

By Chitraleka Basu (China Daily)

10:34, July 23, 2012

Zhong Jian's dragon lay all taut and sprawled on the ground. He was waiting for a stronger wind to pull it up. "But once it does, I'll easily win the competition," he tells us. "And even if I don't, I'll compete again next year."

Meanwhile, a giant parachute-shaped soft kite in rainbow colors that a crowd of people had been trying to fly for a while, lifted a few meters off the ground only to drop again, sweeping across the ground.

Spectators scurried to get out of its way, not wanting to get caught in the maze of a 100 strings attached to it. Those in the fore of the army of 40-odd people trying to hoist it up fell and rolled a few meters out of the way.

A stunt kite team from Taiyuan in Shanxi province pulled off an awesome feat. Manipulated by four team members, four kites twisted and twirled, rolled and dove into the air, to the tune of lively songs.

The kite runners skipped backwards and bent over, touching the ground almost, as if dancing in sync with the kites they flew.

"I fell in love with kite ballet when I first saw a video on a foreign website about 20 years ago. Few Chinese kite flyers were into the sport at that time," says Niu Yongjun, their leader.

"An American kite team brought stunt kites to the Weifang kite festival in 2009. They helped us buy a set and taught us the basics. When the wind is below 10 kilometer per hour, we select slow movements. It seems you can do anything with your kite. I just love the feeling."

Dan Tonio of San Diego, California, was busy fixing a four-line stunt kite. He runs what he calls the last American kite manufacturing company. Dan was in Weifang not to compete or pursue business interests, but for the pure joy of "hanging out with friends from all across the world".

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