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Kite Fest Fundraiser Returning To ISU's Hancock Stadium May 19

Kid flies a kite
Courtesy Tejas Jani
The annual Kite Fest event drew about 2,000 attendees to Illinois State University's Hancock Stadium last year.

Kite Fest is back in Bloomington-Normal for its sixth year from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at Illinois State University’s Hancock Stadium.

Some of the event’s staple activities are returning this year, including the Upper Limits climbing wall, face painting, henna tattoos, games provided by Rader Family Farms, the Children’s Discovery Museum wind exhibit, and a robotics demonstration by I-Excel.

The band Conversation Over will play live during the event.

Credit Courtesy / Kite Fest
Kite Fest
The graffiti wall at Kite Fest.

Kite Fest is also bringing back its “graffiti wall.”

“It's a huge 10-foot by 20-foot wide canvas if you will, and people will be painting whatever they want with spray paint on the actual wall,” explained Steve Grady, a co-director for Kite Fest. “We’ve done like a big tarp in the past. This year we’re going to have 1-foot by 1-foot pieces of cardboard, and they’re going to be laid out side-by side, so it’ll be one big mural.”

The stadium’s concessions stand will be open during the event.

There will also be some new activities available, including a talent show.

And of course, there will be plenty of kite flying.

Tejas Jani is the marketing lead for this year’s event.

“I personally I grew up flying kites,” he said. “We all have different memories with it, and 10 out of 10 times those memories are going to be happy and fun.”

Organizers will provide kites for use during the event, but attendees can bring their own kite or purchase one on-site to take home.

Raising Money For Nonprofits

Kite Fest is more than family-friendly entertainment; the event also serves as the annual fundraiser for For a Better Tomorrow.

The Bloomington-based nonprofit supports other nonprofits locally and globally.

“The idea is we help other nonprofits get back on their feet, so we take on different projects locally and globally,” Jani said. “We teach them how to fish, if you will.”

The nonprofit’s board chooses nonreligious, apolitical nonprofit organizations to support. In previous years the organization has supported YWCA McLean County, Mid-Central Community Action, PATH Crisis Center and WGLT.

For a Better Tomorrow doesn’t donate funds directly to the organizations it supports; rather, it takes care of the nonprofits’ bills, “Which is a unique approach to keep things very transparent,” Jani explained.

Steve and Tejas
Credit Breanna Grow / WGLT
Steve Grady, left, and Tejas Jani from the Kite Fest organizing team.

This year the nonprofit’s board selected The Pantagraph’s Goodfellow Fund. Founded in 1927, the fund provides fleece blankets to nursing home residents, household goods to homebound seniors and other resources to those in need in the community, both at Christmas time and throughout the year.

New nonprofit Dreams Are Possible, which provides job training for low-income and at-risk women, will also benefit.

Kite Fest is free to attend, but organizers will be accepting donations throughout the event. A portion of proceeds from kites sold at Route 66 Kites in Pontiac will also benefit For a Better Tomorrow.

Jani said attendees don’t need to actually fly a kite to enjoy themselves at the event.

“We will have hundreds of kites, and it’s a beautiful view, if you would just want to come out, hang out and watch the kites fly, it’s very relaxing, while listening to a live band,” he said.

Today Kite Fest remains the only event of its kind in Central Illinois.

Grady said he believes that could be an opportunity for the event to continue growing.

“I would love for this event to become a big, huge annual community event, maybe even a two-day event,” he said. “We’re shooting for a new attendance record this year of over 3,000, so in the past we’ve had close to 2,000.”

The event is still looking for volunteers to help with setup, admissions, tear-down and more. Those interested in helping out can sign up online.

For more information about Kite Fest sponsors and activities, visit the event’s Facebook page.

GLT's full interview about Kite Fest.

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Breanna Grow is a correspondent for GLT. She joined the station in September 2018.