Old tradition returns! Balloon Fest to re-launch this weekend

URBANA — It won’t matter whether the autumn skies over Champaign County are blue or gray the first weekend in October. They’ll be accompanied by a variety of colors.

A former tradition will be rebooted when the 2018 Champaign County Balloon Fest: A Hot Air Affair arrives at Grimes Field to start a new era, 4-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6.

Admission costs $2 for adults and $1 for kids.

The last such hot air balloon event was in 2012. The time seemed right for a revival.

“I kept hearing how much people missed it, so we started working on bringing it back,” said airport manager Elton Cultice. “It’s taken a lot of work and requires money, but it’s something we think the people will like.”

There are 10 confirmed hot air balloons that will appear and will launch at 6 p.m. each evening. The public will be allowed to check out the balloons up close around 7:30, when a balloon glow will create a display of light and color and let them circulate and meet the pilots.

There will also be a beer garden, food trucks, live music, kids’ activities including face-paint and toy hot air balloon building, tours of the Champaign Aviation Museum and a flying lab.

Another feature will be a pizza eating contest on Friday and chicken wing eating contest on Saturday. Both will be at 7 p.m.

Credit: Barbara Perenic

Credit: Barbara Perenic

Times will be approximate as weather could cause delays and organizers ask for attendees to be patient to conduct the event safely.

Cultice was glad major sponsors stepped up to support the event. Volunteers are also needed to help out.

Any monies raised will go toward future hot air balloon festivals. Cultice has designs for creating even bigger themed balloon fests in the future.

“It’s an old-fashioned event for the fun of it,” Cultice said.


What: Champaign County Balloon Fest: A Hot Air Affair

Where: Grimes Field, 1636 N. Main St., Urbana

When: Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6, 4-9 p.m.

Admission: $2 adults, $1 children

More info: 937-505-0330 | Website

Credit: Barbara Perenic

Credit: Barbara Perenic

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