AMESBURY — The annual Fourth of July fireworks show at Woodsom Farm is an evening favorite for residents and visitors alike, but Eli Bailin wants to make it a full-day event by adding drones, music and kendama.
Bailin said his main focus going into his second year as Amesbury Days organizer was to involve more programming on the Fourth of July, so he has lined up a full day of activities for Thursday.
The day kicks off when North East Racing Drones, or NERDS, puts on an exhibition drone race that includes an obstacle course from 10 a.m. until noon.
NERDS chapter organizer and manager Jason McCarthy said in an email that drone racing is “technology, physics and computer science come together for sport.”
“Pilots interface with these twitch-sensitive machines at a near-thought level, making it a truly out-of-body experience,” McCarthy stated.
McCarthy said those in attendance can expect to see drone racers flying their miniature aircraft through an obstacle course “at ridiculous speeds” of over 80 mph.
“There will be a monitor so you can see what the pilots see,” McCarthy said. “Or you can sit down, strap on a pair of goggles and ride ‘shotgun’ with a pilot for a race.”
Bailin and fellow kendama enthusiast Michael Reeves will take over Woodsom Farm right after the drone racing for what they hope will be the first New England Kendama Classic from noon to 5 p.m.
“Kendama is a Japanese skill toy, hobby, similar to a yo-yo,” Reeves said. “That is usually where I leave it.”
Reeves will be making the trip up to Amesbury from Salem, Connecticut, on Thursday and Bailin said “the best kendama player in the world” – Corbin “Bonz Atron” Stafford – will judge the event.
“This will be a competition, but it’s more so a gathering for kendama players,” Reeves said. “You can expect to see a group of people throwing toys around in the air and having lots of fun. I would encourage anybody to come and check it out. Everybody is very open and friendly and are willing to teach you about it. It’s something that is fun for all ages and anybody.”
Kendama is a “young and relatively new hobby in the United States,” according to Reeves, 21, who has been playing for eight years.
“I started when I was a freshman in high school,” Reeves said. “There were a group of kids that were playing with it back then, but I was the only one who got really hooked. I stuck with it and have become very passionate about it.”
Kendama is mostly about competing with oneself, he said.
“It has led me to personal development and self-improvement and has helped me apply those concepts to my own life, not just kendama,” Reeves said. “It’s always about learning something new and that can always apply to other aspects in life.”
Bailin has also lined up a pair of musical acts for the celebration.
Fan favorite Brandy will be playing its usual Fourth of July set from 7 to 9 p.m. and Freevolt of Newburyport will perform during the Kendama Classic at 4 p.m.
Bailin, a professional yo-yo player, is the creator of “The Eli Hop” yo-yo trick and said he has been experimenting with kendama for three years.
“I feel like I should be better than I am,” he said. “Some of these guys are really good.”
The kendama craziness will begin Wednesday night with what Bailin called a “prejam” for all ages at BareWolf Brewing, 12 Oakland St., at 6 p.m.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.