One last flight

Becky Vargo • May 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Thirty years after MACkite sponsored its first kite-flying competition at Grand Haven State Park, the organizers say they will hold the grand finale this weekend.

The Great Lakes Kite Festival takes place Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the same location on the shore of Lake Michigan.

There is no entry fee, other than the normal pass to get into the state park. MACkite owner Steve Negen said the Beach Express will be running both days to give spectators an option for parking and riding for a small fee.

Negen said he anticipates more kite flyers for the final year of the event. Otherwise, there is nothing new or spectacular planned.

“It will be the same event that everyone’s come to know and love,” he said.

Featured events include the main performance field where kites dance to music all day. There will be giant kites, representatives from kite clubs, the “world’s largest outdoor kite store,” kiteboarding demonstrations and open flying fields. Negen said the kite store would be open Friday afternoon.

Many of the favorite performers who return year after year include the Windjammers Kite Team, Chicago Fire, Too Much Fun, Fire and Ice, Al Sparling, Darryl Waters, Wisconsin Kiters Club, Lee Sedgwick (who has attended every year of the event), Sam and Anne Ritter, Elizabeth Gordon, and Grant Lovett.

Food trucks will also be on site.

Negen said Wednesday that many kite flyers were already in the state park campground, using a week’s worth of vacation time to get in some flying before the weekend.

Pat Reibold of Carmel, Indiana, in his third year at the festival, manipulated some bright yellow Pro-Dancer kites in light wind Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a great place to fly,” he said. “I like the beach.”

Reibold said he was staying at a motel and was here for a week.

“It’s pretty sad,” he said of the end of the festival. “There’s a bunch of us that will probably come here anyway and fly all week.”

Richard Masak of St. Paul, Minnesota, echoed those sentiments. 

“I love camping here,” he said. “I love the beach.”

But he understands why the festival is at the end of its run.

“It’s sad to see it go,” Masak said. “They did a great job for a long, long time.”

Masak, who grew up near Pontiac, started coming to the festival in 2011. This year, he brought 25 kites with him, so he’s prepared for all kinds of wind conditions. His biggest kite is an arch made up of 47 16-inch kites. Masak said the forecast calls for stronger winds, so he expects to be able to put the arch in the air on Friday.

For more information on the kite festival, including frequently asked questions, visit www.mackite.com/glskc.htm.

Grand Haven’s weekend forecast:

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 71.

Saturday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low of 54.

Sunday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high of 65.

Source: National Weather Service

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