Balloon crews begin preparations leading up to the fourth annual Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival in 2013. This year's event takes place starting at 6:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Loudy-Simpson Park.

File photo

Balloon crews begin preparations leading up to the fourth annual Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival in 2013. This year's event takes place starting at 6:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Loudy-Simpson Park.

Moffat County Balloon Festival ready for weekend lift-off

Event includes many family activities

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A yearly favorite for Northwest Colorado will take flight once again this weekend.

photo

File photo

Competitors in the pie-eating contest dig in during the fourth annual Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival in 2013. This year's event offers a great deal of family activities Saturday at Loudy-Simpson Park, including fishing, wagon rides, a treasure hunt and more.

If you go

What: Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival

When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Where: Loudy-Simpson Park

Details: The fifth annual event will showcase 15 pilots and their balloons launching at 6:30 a.m. each day, with a scaled-back version planned for Friday. Saturday will feature a full schedule of activities for all ages, including, among other things, a pancake breakfast, wood carvers, story-telling, pie-eating contests, wagon rides, fishing, a beer garden and live music from Craig group Sandrock Sound and ZZ Top cover band Eliminator, followed by the evening balloon glow. A suggested but voluntary admission fee is a nonperishable food item. For more information and the full schedule of events, call 970-826-4444 or visit www.mcballoonfestival.com.

The fifth annual Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival kicks off early Friday morning at Loudy-Simpson Park as balloon enthusiasts take to the skies. With slightly fewer participants the first day, this will be a prelude to the full event Saturday, which will include 15 pilots of the specialty craft lifting off for the eager crowds.

“That’s my favorite part of it, is just seeing them all up there in the sky. It’s amazing,” organizer Randy Looper said.

The launches Saturday and Sunday also may come with the benefit of a trip upward in the balloons’ baskets for spectators willing to lend a hand with the preparation stages, Looper said.

Apart from the balloons, there will be a great deal of activities, starting with a pancake breakfast. While dining, people will hear a familiar sound as a few chainsaw carvers from June’s Whittle the Wood Rendezvous make their return to Craig.

Carvers will show off their skills during the day, with their works up for auction later in the afternoon.

Dozens of food and crafts vendors will set up in the park as the activities continue with features such as story-telling, wagon rides, a money pit and a treasure hunt, as well as youth fishing with the assistance of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Also, last year’s pie-eating contest with confections from Village Inn will be back and bigger than ever for those hoping to show their talent.

The day will come to a close with the music of Craig’s own SandRock Sound, followed by Eliminator, a ZZ Top cover band, before shifting to the balloon glow, as the balloonists light up the night sky.

Looper said the day will be full for families wanting a lot of entertainment.

“It used to be mostly stuff early in the morning and then they’d come back later for the balloon glow, but we’ve got things going the entire day this year,” he said.

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