KHW #8: Symphony of Fail

So the whole reason we’re here right now, the whole reason we booked this shoot, is Shiverfest. It was described to us by the locals as a kite flying / ice fishing festival of wondrous proportion, a weekend where summer colors pattern the winter sky and blue teflon huts cover the lake.

“We’ve GOT to get this next year!” I told Pusser last February, after learning we’d missed it by two days. Our moments of accord are rare, but on this matter we vehemently agreed: Shiverfest 2009 was a go. Air tickets were booked well in advance, hotel arrangements were made, a substantial amount of outerwear was purchased. 

The crew set out for Devils Lake Saturday afternoon, with the sun shining and our spirits high. Just outside town, after the speedway but before the billboards, we spotted a smattering of kites. To us, it seemed an appetizer – a teaser before the main course – but we turned off route 2 and shot a bit, anyway. Probably 12 or 13 kites in total, held down by stakes, and one dude in a Jeep wheeling donuts around the lake. I was just excited to walk on frozen water for the first time in my life. After about half an hour Pusser got impatient and hurried the crew along so that we could get over to route 20, where the REAL action was at, before sunset.

After a brief pit stop at our hotel we took off for the casino road, eyes on the horizon, waiting for the spectacle, the color, the afternoon light casting sweet firey rays over a skybound sea of rayon…

And saw nothing.


Not a single kite, barely even any ice houses. Nothing but the lake, the dead trees, and the casino windmill tilting in the distance.

“Where are they?” exclaimed Pusser, slightly undone.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I saw a flyer at the hotel, and it said the kite stuff was at Ackerman acres, which is back where we were.”

Our van rocked with the anticlimax.

Pusser sighed mightily, and stared across the frozen landscape. “So that’s it, then, I guess?”

“I guess.”


I don’t want to say how much this shoot cost, and I’m not saying it was a waste, but seriously. Air tickets for three, gas from Chicago to Fargo and back for one, plus per diem, hotel, camera rental, batteries, and all the fucking snow gear I bought at Scheel’s, so we could drive two and a half hours (one way) to film fifteen minutes of some asshole fucking around in his Jeep and thirteen unmanned kites.

I present, for your viewing pleasure, Shiverfest.

And that’s only half the story. Sunday was even more rewarding. Just wait and see.

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