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Spirits soar for Moffat County Balloon Festival

Seventh annual event schedule full of fun activities

Moffat County Balloon Festival kicked off early Friday morning at Loudy-Simpson Park. The festival is in its seventh year of offering colorful balloon rides and various activities to the community.
Noelle Leavitt Riley

2016 Moffat County Balloon Festival schedule

Saturday

6:30 a.m. Hot air balloon launch

6 to 7 a.m. Breakfast burritos by Moffat County High School wrestlers

7 a.m. Elevate Education 5K Run/Walk and One-Mile Fun Run by Friends of Moffat County Education

7 to 10 a.m. Pancake breakfast by MCHS wrestlers

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Colorado State Over the Line Championship

9:30 a.m. Bernie Rose Story Hour

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Face painting, puppet shows and balloon animals by New Creation Church

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Magic shows by Sambu the Magician

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Classic Air Medical helicopter tour

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Colorado Cruisers Classic Car Show

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Arts and crafts and food vendors

11 a.m. Beer garden by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Moffat County Fair and Anson family wagon rides

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Grand Olde West Days Rope-a-Dummy

Noon Pie-eating contest by Village Inn

2 to 5 p.m. Colorado Northwestern Community College Four-Wheelers Down & Dirty Demos

3 p.m. Children’s money pit by McDonald’s

3 to 5 p.m. Battle of the Paddle stand-up paddleboard races

4 p.m. Live music by Bill Clark

6:30 p.m. Live music by Steve Thomas Band

8:15 p.m. Balloon glow

Sunday

6:30 a.m. Hot air balloon launch

— Admission is free, and participants are asked to contribute canned goods for St. Michael’s Community Kitchen.

For more information, visit mcballoonfestival.com.

On a typical summer day, a person may look up and see a bright blue with some shades of orange or purple depending on the hour. However, this weekend will feature every hue imaginable high above Craig.

2016 Moffat County Balloon Festival schedule

Saturday

6:30 a.m. Hot air balloon launch

6 to 7 a.m. Breakfast burritos by Moffat County High School wrestlers

7 a.m. Elevate Education 5K Run/Walk and One-Mile Fun Run by Friends of Moffat County Education

7 to 10 a.m. Pancake breakfast by MCHS wrestlers

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Colorado State Over the Line Championship

9:30 a.m. Bernie Rose Story Hour

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Face painting, puppet shows and balloon animals by New Creation Church

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Magic shows by Sambu the Magician

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Classic Air Medical helicopter tour

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Colorado Cruisers Classic Car Show

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Arts and crafts and food vendors

11 a.m. Beer garden by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Moffat County Fair and Anson family wagon rides

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Grand Olde West Days Rope-a-Dummy

Noon Pie-eating contest by Village Inn

2 to 5 p.m. Colorado Northwestern Community College Four-Wheelers Down & Dirty Demos

3 p.m. Children’s money pit by McDonald’s

3 to 5 p.m. Battle of the Paddle stand-up paddleboard races

4 p.m. Live music by Bill Clark

6:30 p.m. Live music by Steve Thomas Band

8:15 p.m. Balloon glow

Sunday

6:30 a.m. Hot air balloon launch

— Admission is free, and participants are asked to contribute canned goods for St. Michael’s Community Kitchen.

For more information, visit mcballoonfestival.com.

The seventh annual Moffat County Balloon Festival’sMoffat County Balloon Festival’s big launch is at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, as two dozen hot air balloons start soaring at Loudy-Simpson Park, the flames provided by propane tanks cutting through the early morning chill to give way to an aerial spectacle unlike any other. big launch is at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, as two dozen hot air balloons start soaring at Loudy-Simpson Park, the flames provided by propane tanks cutting through the early morning chill to give way to an aerial spectacle unlike any other.

Moffat County Balloon Festival’s big launch is at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, as two dozen hot air balloons start soaring at Loudy-Simpson Park, the flames provided by propane tanks cutting through the early morning chill to give way to an aerial spectacle unlike any other.

The count of balloonists and their vessels is up from 20 last year to 25 this time. With some previous pilots unable to attend this year but already marking their calendars for 2017, organizer Randy Looper expects the count will be 30 or more by next year.

“The best part of the balloon festival is the launch in the morning. It’s just gorgeous to see them inflate. This year seeing 25 balloons go up will be awesome,” Looper said.

The full field of balloonists will also launch Sunday morning as well as provide a bright, beautiful display against the backdrop of twilight during the Saturday evening balloon glow, during which the crafts will stay on the ground as spectators get a close look at them.

Barbi Hann is one of this year’s pilots. She has flown in Craig since the beginning of the festival and has served as “balloonmeister” since the event’s second year, coordinating balloonists and ensuring safety measures.

“Seeing the wonderment and awestruck expressions on their faces when these huge, colorful giants stand up and take off — there’s just something about watching a kid with that in his eyes,” she said. “That’s phenomenal for me.”

Between the balloon parts of Balloon Festival will be a plethora of activities.

Looper said about 3,000 people showed up for the 2015 event.

“I’m hoping with more balloons and more things going on, it will continue to increase,” he said.

The earliest risers will not only get to watch the balloons take off but run along with them as part of the Elevate Education 5K Run/Walk and One-Mile Fun Run hosted by Friends of Moffat County Education, while Moffat County High School wrestlers will provide food options including breakfast burritos and a pancake breakfast.

The day continues with many more free activities — a canned goods donation to St. Michael’s Community Kitchen is encouraged — like the Bernie Rose Story Hour and family activities provided by New Creation Church such as face painting, puppet shows and balloon animals.

Additionally, local magician Sambu Shrestha will be providing performances throughout the day.

Organizer Derek Cleverly said it was the goal to engage as many people from the area as possible.

“We’ve always looked at this event like, ‘how can we get as many people involved as possible,” he said.

Arts and crafts and food vendors will be on hand, as well as a beer garden and a pie-eating contest. If you thought hot air balloons would be the only means of conveyance, check out demonstrations by Classic Air Medical helicopters and local four-wheelers, wagon rides, a paddleboard contest and the Colorado Cruisers car show.

Cruisers organizer Karen Vassek said she hopes to see 150 autos parked at Loudy-Simpson in the group’s second year as part of Balloon Festival.

“It worked out pretty good last year, so we thought we’d try it again,” she said.

Free concerts come later in the afternoon by cowboy act Bill Clark and headliner Steve Thomas Band, a 1980s cover band and favorite from 2015’s Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, the day capping off with the balloon glow.

The format is easy-going, Cleverly and Looper said, with people able to pick and choose which parts of the day will suit them or their family.

“There’s plenty of variety for everybody,” Cleverly said.


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