20 September 2009 (Sunday) - Margate Kite Festival

Sunday and so again woken early. Not byMy Boy TM ” (who is away in search of haddock), but by the infernal church bell up the road. Note that’s “bell” and not “bells”. The church up the road has one bell which they clang at 9am every Sunday morning. If it were it a melodic peal of bells, I wouldn’t mind so much. But it’s not. They have one bell which sounds awful. The first time I heard it was some twenty years ago when I honestly thought that the sound was made by small children on nearby wasteland banging a stick against some rusty lump of metal. And I’ve had that same noise every Sunday morning ever since.

I did once send an email to the church’s published email address to ask if such a racket was necessary. They replied (rather rudely) that their bell was nothing compared to the noise that comes from a mosque. I spoke with the council some years ago. They made it crystal clear they were scared to get involved because they didn’t want to be seen to be in conflict with a church. Perhaps I could try the local vicar again. He can only tell me to get stuffed.

To Margate for the International Kite festival. I bought a “kiss me quick” hat, and we soon met up with friends who’d been there all weekend. It struck me as a tad cold to be camping out all weekend at this time of year, but what do I know? We swapped a few insults, admired the kites, and I even got to fly a kite in the arena for the edification of the normal people. Not that there were many of them there, really. Today was one of the few (I think it’s the only) international kite festivals in the South East. And it had a really poor turnout from the general public. Again I find myself pondering on the whole concept of kite festivals. Why do we have them? Who are they for?

Take today for example. One of the UK’s biggest kite festivals. Held on the beach at high tide, at a seaside resort when all the tourists have gone home. Now I will concede that the tide does come in and out, but had a weekend been picked when low tide was at mid day, a far better festival could have been organised. (“Better” in the sense that there might have been space to fly kites, and that far fewer expensive kites would have been dumped in the sea). And had a weekend been picked when the tourists were about, the local traders might have made a bit more money. And the kite traders might have sold something. So whatever possessed the organisers to pick high tide and off-season?

In the past it has been mooted that we might run an Ashford kite festival. But we gave up with the idea because we were told by the kiting community that there were no weekends free. We suggested one weekend – that clashed with the Wolverhampton kite festival. We suggested another – that clashed with the Aberystwyth one. There is a kite festival pretty much every weekend of the year. So what….. Call me naïve, but I’ve always thought that a kite festival should be a local event for local people. But I’m fast coming to the conclusion that they are not. They would seem to be put on for the benefit of the kite flying community – hence the scheduling problems.

If Margate kite festival was being run for the locals, then the local media would have been advertising it. There was nothing in local papers or on local radio. I got chatting with local shopkeepers – all loved the idea of the festival. They really liked seeing the sky full of kites. But all of them said that the thing came as a surprise. The first notice anyone had was on Friday when a minor road was closed for the event. And none of them saw any increase in their takings from the festival. Because no one (other than the kite flyers) came to the festival.

Which is a shame….

1 comment:

  1. From a flyers point of view it was a good weekend renewing old and making new aquaintances. The sun shone but the wind didn't blow on Saturday, and on Sunday we had the reverse so for the public it was a bit of a washout.

    The event is organised by the KSGB and the Margate Town Partnership. The latter put up the funding, and one wonders who has the responsibuility for local advertising and publicity. Mind you we have a similar quango locally, they spend our money on events and fail to tell us they are happening. Having said that for Portsmouth Kite Festival some fliers went down a day early to do some publicty for the TV; they did pieces to camera, flew kites and had them filmed, all of which ended up as a 10 second announcement in a long list of things to do on the bank holiday weekend. So You can never win.