“When we fly here, it’s called Rollie-fest,” Paul Luetzen said proudly.
A field near St. John’s church in Minot is where Luetzen and his best friend, Rollie Metz, have flown kites since they were just 6 years old.
They’d make their own kites out of grocery bags.
“We’d be here all day long until our parents would come and get us and say ‘it’s time!’ And then we’d spend two hours reeling the kites in,” he said.
Metz passed away in 2017 but Luetzen keeps his memory alive and his kites flying high.
Metz and Luetzen would go to about 30 kite fests each summer in North Dakota and beyond.
Now, Luetzen still goes.
“It’s like a big kite family,” he said. “Sometimes they feel more like family than my own family. And the only time we get to see each other is when we have the kite fests so it’s like a family reunion every time we have a kite fest.”
One of those kite family members he sees more often is Rena Rustad.
Rustad coordinates the annual Skyfest in Garrison.
Each year, it brings in thousands of people over the course of Memorial Day weekend.
The two fliers would like to see a kite festival in Minot, which used to exist thanks to Leutzen and Metz.
“That’s something we’d like to get going here,” Luetzen said. “I know that it would take off, we just need to find a place that we can fly every year that has good wind.”
They’d need property, donations and sponsorships…but the interest is there.
People stopped to stare at what they saw in the sky at the latest “Rollie-fest.”
“The best thing about kite flying is seeing people smile,” Rustad said. “You can’t not smile when you see a kite. When you put a kite in somebody’s hands, whether they’re 2 or 102, they love it.”
Rustad and Luetzen want to see more people pick up the hobby.
It’s a bit more work than you might expect, but it’s got a great payoff.
And if you need a teacher, “I love teaching the little kids how to fly and stuff,” said Luetzen. “So that, I think, is what really keeps me in it.”
Paul Luetzen is Someone You Should Know.
Garrison, Jamestown, Medora and Mandan all host kite fests.
If you’d like to help Leutzen and Rustad get one going in Minot, click here to get in touch.