The Awesome Mitten - Great Lakes Kite Festival

Day 347: Great Lakes Kite Festival

The Awesome Mitten - Great Lakes Kite Festival
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“Everyone wants to fly, ever since man saw the birds and dreamed,” Steve Negen muses on the nature of kite flying.

Negen’s love for kites began when he was young and his dad bought him a dragon kite. Negen now owns a kite shop named MACkite in Grand Haven where he has performed business for over 25 years.

Negen is a proud sponsor of the 24th Great Lakes Kite Festival, where people worldwide will gather in Grand Haven’s State Park to celebrate the dream of flight. The festival takes place annually on the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, making this year’s festival fall May 18th through May 20th. There is no admission fee.

The Awesome Mitten - Great Lakes Kite Festival
Photo courtesy of

“Bring layers of clothing, even if it’s warm out. It can be windy at the beach,” Negen advises for those coming to the festival.  “Also pack a picnic lunch. People come for one hour and end up staying four.”

The festival began as the Great Lakes Sport Kite Championships in 1988, and has since evolved to include the fun of flying kites with everyone. A wide range of events play all day, from kite ballet (kite tricks performed to music), to a candy drop where sweets rain from the sky like in the gumdrop song. And of course, there are still the championship teams’ kite demonstrations.

“We have the best competitors,” says Negen. “We were laughing about the number of championships these fliers have won.”

New highlights this year include the world’s largest guitar (kite). It is 18 feet wide with a 156 foot long tail, and one of only two in existence. And increasing the festival’s array of flying objects is the United State Boomerang Association. They’ve come to teach about boomerangs and sell them to raise money for the World Boomerang Championships in Brazil.

There will also be kiteboarding competitions, a water sport where instead of the person pulling the kite, the kite pulls the person. This festival is a good chance to see kiteboarding in action before it appears in the 2016 Olympics.

“Kiteboarding is like windsurfing,” explains Negen. “It’s fun, and appeals to surfers, snowboarders, and skaters.”

This festival isn’t all about watching others fly their kites. There will be kite shops on-site to help others join in.

The Awesome Mitten - Great Lakes Kite Festival
Photo courtesy of

Negen shares his knowledge about what kind of kite to buy: “There are two types of kites: single line and dual line. Single line kites are the traditional ones; those are easy to fly for children under eight, and nice if you only want to watch. Dual line kites are for those who want to be physical, perform stunts, and concentrate.”

A fun alternative to buying is to make your own kite at home. It’s cheap, simple, and a great learning experience for kids. Here’s a step-by-step guide and a video.

With all that The Great Lakes Festival offers, it’s proved to be fun for everyone. “Ages four through eighty compliment us on how they enjoyed the festival.” Negen says. “It’s visual friendly entertainment. See it for yourself.”

Like MACkite on Facebook, for updates on the Festival.

Tristan Chamberlain, Associate Editor

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