They’re counting the seconds.

Literally.

Open up the home page at www.snowkiteevent.com and the first thing you see is a countdown, ticking off the seconds, minutes, hours and days to this year’s Snowkite Solider. It’s the sixth year of an event that brings hundreds of “kiters” in to the Camas Prairie. As of Feb. 1, the days number 22.

About 20 miles west of Fairfield’s city center, the wide open prairie and fairly constant wind makes it an ideal spot for enthusiasts to put space between their skis or snowboards and terra firma.

The sport of snow kiting is relatively new. It blends snowboarding/skiing with kiteboarding or kite-surfing. While its history isn’t really well documented, it got its start in Europe in the mid 1990s and has grown from there. When the snow is good, there are snow kiters around most weekends, but come the last weekend in February, professionals and amateurs alike flock to Southern Idaho.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Kevin Wilder from Colorado prepares his kite by pumping air into it.

Event organizers were unavailable for comment, but according to the event’s websites, more than 200 kiters are expected to make their way to the prairie this year. Since there aren’t quite that many rooms available nearby, residents of Fairfield and Camas County rent out rooms, campers and any other open space to help accommodate the visitors.

Chris Bradley owns Soldier Creek Brewing in Fairfield. He said he’s had people dig snow caves into the mounds of snow piled behind his building by city road crews and camp there.

“It’s a pretty festive event, like any snow event,” Bradley said. He said the community and the Chamber of Commerce get actively involved in Snowkite Soldier. Residents volunteer both on site during the day and then in the evening during nightly events and award ceremonies.

Photo © Jason Lugo“They (event organizers) try to support all the businesses,” Bradley said, although he admits the event has gotten so big over the last few years, his place is too small for some of the larger events. He said last year’s snow kiting movie premier had to take place at the local legion hall.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Aaron Sales from Hood River Oregon is representing Kiteboarding Magazine.

The four-day event boasts lessons for beginners, adventures camps and exhibitions for the latest equipment. There is a “poker run” with what the organizers call “great swag” as prizes. The late snowfall had this year’s event in jeopardy. As long as the snow holds, Snow Kite Soldier will launch colorful kites in the crystal blue skies of the Camas Prairie.

Snowkite Soldier
Feb. 23 – 26

To get there: From Fairfield continue west another 20 miles. Watch for flags and signs marking the event.

For more information monitor the website: http://snowkitesoldier.com and http://www.snowkiteevent.com .

About the author

Karma Metzler Fitzgerald - Contributor Karma Metzler Fitzgerald spends the bulk of her time traveling up and down Highways 93 and 75. It would be romantic to say she is always in search of compelling feature stories and profiles of the fascinating humans that inhabit this beautiful valley of ours. That, however, would be a lie. She is most likely transporting children to various sport and music events, school functions and occasional trips to doctors, orthodontists, and the feed store. In the process, she comes across a great story ideas, which she vows to write at the first available moment. Those moments are few and far between, but when they come she prefers to send them to Southern Idaho Living. Karma lives just north of Shoshone, with her husband, 3 children, 25 chickens, several thousand cows and a cat who thinks it’s a dog.

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