The skies above Urbana are expected to be colorful Oct 5-6 as they fill with hot air balloons during the Champaign County Balloon Fest. The “Hot Air Affair” will be held at Grimes Field from 4 to 9 p.m. both days with ticket prices of $2 for adults and $1 for children.
Balloons will launch at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and pilots will look for a “friendly” landing site within five miles of the airport. Property owners of open fields who wish them to land can place a white sheet on the ground, and pilots will use this as their target. Upon returning to the airport, balloonists will prepare for the evening “glow.”
Elton Cultice, airport manager and festival chairman, said a balloon fest hasn’t been held in Champaign County since 2012. Unlike some past balloon fests, this one will not include a carnival, he said.
“For the first year back we’re taking it easy so we can have a simple, fun event,” he said. “Our event is different from a lot of other balloon events because it’s not a competition where pilots earn points.”
Cultice said activities at the air field likely will include face painting for children, pizza and chicken wing eating contests, and opportunities to meet the pilots and balloon ground crews. Vendors can register and applications are available on line at www.balloonfestohio.com.
All money raised by the event will go toward funding this year’s event or next year’s event, Cultice said, adding the fest is a good way for people to stay engaged with the airport.
Organizer Sandy Gonzalez said the fest is a good way to attract visitors to Champaign County.
Volunteers are needed to serve as crew members for the balloonists. Crew members must be in good physical condition and able to hold roping as balloons inflate. For more information, contact Cultice at 937-652-4319.
Balloon launch and balloon glows are controlled by weather conditions and are subject to change.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304