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Flying High

Greg Rasberry still feels a pang of regret when he looks into the sky and sees a kite soaring. &#8220I definitely regret it sometimes when I come to these shows,” Rasberry said. About two years ago, the Milwaukee, Wis., native sold every kite he owned and bought new Canon camera equipment. Although he did make $15,000 off his extensive kite collection, Rasberry continues to feel a pull toward the hobby he nurtured for 10 years.
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Rasberry was one of many kite enthusiasts who traveled Sunday to the second annual DeKalb Kite Festival at Northern Illinois University's North 40 field to display their show kites and to enjoy others' delight in them. &#8220The main part of kiting is to watch people's faces,” Rasberry said. &#8220When people come up to a big kite, their expression is ‘Wow,' and that's what got me into it.” Fellow kiter Alan Sparling of Naperville began his hobby about 16 years ago and never dreamed the pieces of flying fabric and string would take him to places like China and Thailand. &#8220These big show kites get me invited all over the world,” Sparling said. &#8220The gecko has flown on three continents now.” Sparling's 90-foot gecko took to the air with ease Sunday at the festival, but the wavering wind caused the kite to bob up and down most of the afternoon. The gecko is one of three show kites Sparling brought to the festival. The large kites are a big investment, as each can cost some $5,000 to $6,000. Luckily, although the kites are large in the air, they fold easily and weigh about 30 pounds. Sparling took up kiting as a way to de-stress from a long day's work as a software writer. He continues to devote all of his vacation days each year to festival trips. &#8220It was a nice way to get outside and enjoy yourself and not think about work,” he said. After 16 years of experience, Sparling no longer relies on wind meters or weather forecasts to dictate his kiting schedule. &#8220I used to have some very fancy wind meters, but now it's just if it's enough to put it up, I will, if not, I won't bother,” Sparling said. &#8220I've become very fatalistic: Either it will fly or it won't.” Darryl Waters, a kiter from Holland, Mich., drove three and a half hours to attend Sunday's festival. Interested in kites since flying them as a child, Waters now has a basement full of the fabric fliers and has begun constructing his own kites by hand. &#8220Since I was a kid, I could remember wanting to fly a kite all the time,” Waters said. &#8220Once I got bigger, the kites just got bigger.” Even though he likes the &#8220geeky” aerodynamics aspect of the hobby, Waters relies on kite flying for entertainment and relaxation. &#8220When I'm flying, my inner child comes out and I'm having too much fun to care about anything else,” Waters said. Jeff Hale of Neenah, Wis., said kiting is not necessarily as popular as other hobbies, but the connection the fliers feel with their sport is just as real. &#8220For some guys, it's fishing; for some guys, it's bowling,” Hale said. &#8220With us, it's kiting.” Kate Weber can be reached at kweber@daily-chronicle.com. --- To view a photo gallery of the DeKalb Kite Festival, go to http://www.daily-chronicle.com/gallery/



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