Detroit’s first kite festival to soar Sunday

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroiters with kites big and small can join the first Kite Festival at Belle Isle on Sunday.

A recent pop-up event by Detroit Kite Festival organizers rises from the mound just east of downtown.

No kite? No worries: You can make one there.

Margo Dalal, director of the Kite Festival, said she partnered with Matt Tait, owner of Tait Design Co., a local toy company that makes kites. They built a team of five partners and started planning the event last fall.

Dalal said attending a kite festival on the grounds of the Washington Monument as a child inspired her. When she moved to Detroit two years ago, she submitted the idea to Belle Isle’s SOUP, a microgranting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Detroit.

The idea took off from there and they picked Belle Isle for the site.

People try to help get a large parafoil kite in the air. This weekend, skies over Belle Isle may be full of brightly colored kites for the first Detroit Kite Festival.

“We hope ... that Detroiters will come out with their friends and families to engage with our community through kites,” said Dalal of southwest Detroit.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own kites, but if they don’t, kites will be provided for all ages. Kite workshops, including one by the Detroit Institute of Arts and Techshop Detroit, will be offered so participants can make their own.

Kurt Manuel, 27, is a kite fan and he’s looking forward to flying one of his three kites this weekend, including his Star Wars R2D2 and T. rex kites. He’s even volunteering for a portion of the event.

“Who doesn’t like a kite?” he said. “It’s a fun thing to do with anyone, with family, strangers, it’s a beautiful view ... and even more beautiful with more people.

Tait said anyone can make one of five different types of kites, but the most popular is a diamond shape kite.

A boy flies a kite at a pop event put on by the Detroit Kite Festival folks at Sunset Pointe on Belle Isle.

Prizes will be awarded for the kite that flies the highest, the largest, most unusual and more.

Detroit-based Windjammers will close the festival with a choreographed kite show to music at 4 p.m.

“Detroit has a very rich history of kites all the way from the ’30s,” Tait said. “Back then, there were kite-building competitions and in the ’70s there were these things called kite-ins exactly on the cricket field where we will be this year.”

Amelia Eramya met Dalal a year ago and became involved with the project because of Dalal’s enthusiasm.

“She approached me about the idea of creating a zine, (mini magazine for the festival) and I had been wanting to do something of that sort on my own, so I saw it as an opportunity to get that goal achieved by helping a dear friend and special Detroiter,” Eramya said.

“She’s honestly so good for this city. I’m not just saying that, either. I’ve seen her in her element and she’s just a very inclusive individual.”

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Twitter: @SarahRahal_

Fly a kite

The Detroit Kite Festival is on Belle Isle’s cricket field from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Entrance to the festival is free, but drivers need a recreation passport to enter the island. The passports cost $11.