“Near perfection,” was the verdict of one foreign participant in last fall’s Taipei County International Kite Festival, held on a beach at the northern tip of Taiwan Island.
As promised by the organizer, a warm northeast monsoon off Formosa Strait blew steadily day and night. The sun was hot. On hand in an addition to dozens of expert national fliers was an international contingent representing 11 countries. Crowds both days of the international fly ranged from large to dense and they were rewarded for their pilgrimage to a relatively isolated site by not only the big fly on the beach, but an unmatched array of associated entertainment-----exhibitions, kitemaking workshops, half-hour seminars by the guest internationals, music, acrobatics, dancing, puppetry, magic, and an on-scene painting competition for students. An array of stands sold everything from Indonesian ship kites to fossils, including clusters of alleged dinosaur hair. A wide range of snacks, some of unknown genesis to Westerners, was available, grilled squid on a skewer being popular.
There were ceremonies of course and it seemed to many no one at the festival had more fun than Su Tseng-Chang, governor of Taipei County, which helped sponsor the event. He was everywhere, barking speeches, shaking hands, flying kites. His staccato words sounded threatening but an ever-smiling face gave the lie to the voice.