Locals celebrate 8 years of flying at Kite Fest


Christina Pawlak (left) and Jessica Holm, both elementary education alumnae, enjoy the time flying their kite Sunday at DeKalb’s eighth annual Kite Fest held at NIU’s North 40 field at the corner of Lucinda Avenue and Kishwaukee Drive.

By Jessi Haish

Eight years since it started, a letter to the mayor and a love for kites has kept Kite Fest flying strong.

Kite Fest, put together by the DeKalb County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau with help from Chicago Kite, was held Sunday on NIU’s North 40 field, bringing together the community and university volunteers. The event wouldn’t have been possible without a fourth grader’s love of kites.

Nathan Overmann, DeKalb High School senior, and his family loved kites when he was in elementary school.

“We just flew small, single-line kites in the beginning,” Overmann said.

One day, a kite broke and his mother looked online to figure out how to repair it. After finding information on types of kites and kites festivals, the family found a new hobby and “just fell in love.”

For a project in his fourth grade class shortly after, Overmann wrote a letter to DeKalb’s mayor, inviting him to the family’s own kite festival.

“Mayor Frank [Van Buer] called the next day and said he would come,” Overmann said. “But the kite fest hadn’t even been started yet.”

The Overmann family had traveled to other kite fests but thought they might as well have one in DeKalb, Overmann said. The plan came together after the mayor’s letter and with help from the DeKalb County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and Chicago Kite, a kite shop in the “Windy City.”

Sunday, university volunteers also helped with the event. Their names filled up sheets in a sign-in notebook: members of softball, tennis, track, Liberated Minds, fraternities and more.

“We could not do this without our NIU volunteers,” said Debbie Armstrong, co-chair of the festival and executive director of the DeKalb County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They were here at 9 a.m. and all smiles.”

The event is always held the second Sunday in September, and organizers and kite flyers were thankful for the “great winds” and lack of rain.

For some avid kite-flyers, the event is a tradition. Dave Hallahan, 49, of Cortland, flew a rainbow delta kite at Sunday’s event.

“This is a blast,” Hallahan said. “I’ve been doing this for about five years and I’ll come back every year.”

Although Sunday’s attendance numbers had not been confirmed, Doug Nelson, co-chair of Kite Fest and chair of the DeKalb County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, said there was a “great turnout.”

“Just look,” Nelson said. “It’s just phenomenal. There are kites everywhere you look.”