BalloonFest lifts off Friday

By MAX FILBY
STAFF WRITER

Forty-nine hot air balloons will fill the sky with an assortment of colors and shapes when the 15th annual Flag City BalloonFest takes off Friday at Findlay’s Emory Adams Park.

The festival starts at 4 p.m. and the first mass launch of balloons is scheduled for 6 p.m. Festival activities will continue until Sunday morning.

Bruce Baker, media director for the festival, said the event has continued to improve and expand.

“It really has grown quite a bit,” Baker said. “We’ll have some of the best pilots in the nation here this weekend.”

While the festival is based around the celebration of high-flying hot air balloons, the aircraft are actually only able to take off just after sunrise and just before sunset because of air temperatures, Baker said. To fill the void during daylight hours, the festival offers events people can participate in or watch.

New this year is a Civil War artillery demonstration. Visitors will see enactors demonstrate the shooting of cannons and muskets, Baker said.

Also new to the festival is what Baker called a “vintage” baseball game. Participants will play a game of baseball as it was done years ago, without gloves.

Other highlights include a fireworks show at 10 p.m. Saturday, and a balloon “glow,” when all of the balloons will be lit up on the ground, at sunset both Friday and Saturday nights.

“I do encourage everyone to get out there and see them. These things are nearly eight stories high,” Baker said of the balloons. “They really are missing a lot of the show if they don’t come out and see them up close.”

This year’s festival schedule includes:

FRIDAY

7 a.m. — Hot air balloon media flight.
4 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Paid helicopter rides.
4 p.m. — Food vendors open.
5 p.m. — “Dusk Kids Fair” opens. The children’s area includes inflatables, carnival-type games and other activities.
5 p.m. — Beer garden opens.
5:30 p.m. — Opening ceremonies.
6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Tethered balloon rides, $20 per person, one balloon available.
6 p.m. — Hot air balloon flight with mass launch from Emory Adams Park.
6 p.m. — Paid balloon rides, pre-registration and payment required.
8:30 p.m. — Hot air balloon illumination.

SATURDAY

7 a.m. — Hot air balloon flight into Emory Adams Park.
7 a.m. — Paid balloon rides, pre-registration and payment required.
8 a.m. — 5K Up, Up, and Away Run, presented by Findlay Striders and benefiting Special Olympics.
10 a.m. — Car show registration begins.
10 a.m. — “Dusk Kids Fair” opens. The children’s area includes inflatables, carnival-type games, and other activities.
10:30 a.m. — Vintage baseball game: 1880s-era game played by the Wyandotte Ghostriders against the Tippecanoe Canal Jumpers. Vaun Wickerham will provide the play-by-play.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Paid helicopter rides.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. — Caricature artist on site.
Noon — Beer garden opens.
12 p.m. to 4 p.m. — Car show.
12 p.m. — Radio-controlled aircraft demonstrations through the afternoon.
1 p.m. — Five-Star Baton Company performance.
1 p.m. — Corn hole tournament.
1 p.m. — Civil War cannon demonstrations each hour.
1:30 p.m. — Vintage baseball game exhibition, spectators can participate.
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. — Life Flight helicopter on display.
4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. — Balloon pilot autograph session.
5:30 p.m. — Welcoming ceremonies and scholarship presentation.
6 p.m. — Hot air balloon flight. Pilots will leave Emory Adams and fly back to the park.
6 p.m. — Paid balloon rides, pre-registration and payment required.
6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Tethered balloon rides, $20, one balloon available.
8:30 p.m. — Hot air balloon illumination.
9:15 p.m. — Attempt to break world glow stick record, sponsored by National Alliance on Mental Illness.
10 p.m. — Fireworks presented by Meijer.

SUNDAY

7 a.m. — Hot air balloon flight into Emory Adams Park.

All times are approximate and subject to change. Check flagcityballoonfest.com for updates.

Filby: 419-427-8422
Send an E-mail to Max Filby
Twitter: @MaxFilby

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