The kites were the stars of the festival, but the people flying them came in a close second. Not surprisingly, most of the spectators lived nearby, but the contestants came from across China and around the world. We had fun meeting some of the teams and their kites; they also seemed to get a kick out of a pale-white family speaking Chinese.
Few of the teams wore traditional costumes from their homelands, but this group of Korean men had extremely funky hats that they were glad to have photographed. They even let Miranda try one on!
We weren't the only ones taking pictures of the interesting people at the Festival. Plenty of people wanted our picture too! We were literally followed around by small groups of people who watched us with undisguised curiosity.
Every so often someone would be brave enough to ask, in halting English, if we would pose for a picture. When we answered in Chinese, the rush was on! One time we posed for more than 10 photos in a row. The girls are usually not fond of being the center of attention, but they were very willing and game to pose in Weifang - especially since we were taking so many photos ourselves! They quickly realized, too - because many people told them - that for most of the people we met, the girls were the first foreign children they had seen in person!
Though I was impressed with the organized, almost-professional teams (with their matching uniforms and choreographed movements) I have to admit that I was most fond of the smaller, two-person teams. These guys simply loved flying kites.
One would hold the string while the other lauched the kite. In between launches they would chat about their kite, how it should be adjusted, and what the wind was up to. They were amateur sportsmen in the very best sense.
Where there are teams, there must be judges. In this case, they were really well organized!