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Lincoln balloon fest: 25 years and going up

Volunteers make it work

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[August 23, 2013]  The old adage of "Build it and they will come" certainly rings true at the Logan County Airport. Out at the airport many preparations have been made to host this weekend's 25th annual hot air balloon portion of the 40th anniversary of the Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival.

Plans for this year's festival actually began last year. Patrick Doolin is the driving force behind much of the coordinating of a host of volunteers who work out at the airport. Doolin has done this for , well, lots of years, learning as he went and making endless notes. Now a day-by-day timeline of what to do and when to do it exists in a 27-page document, and that doesn't count a number of maps.

A small "city" is built out of an alfalfa field and is host and home to many activities for several days.

This doesn't happen without the efforts of countless teams of volunteers. For instance, early on, the parking lot was marked, using GPS to create the lanes and "parking blocks" with strategic mowing of the alfalfa. The green crop is taken out where the cars will park, and the 2-foot-wide strips that are left represent the parking blocks. Another team sets out the barrels to mark the parking rows and denote the driving lanes.

The number of people, entities and agencies is a list way too long to even begin telling who contributed to make a dream a reality. There are signs all over town and on roads leading into Lincoln directing spectators to the myriad of festival events to be enjoyed. And, there is a volunteer team that undertakes that challenge with vigor and great attitude.

What many attendees don't consider is the attention paid to details.

Can you imagine a festival this size without adequate trash receptacles? Between 15 and 21 large trash bins are brought in, and countless trash barrels are set around. The Boy Scouts will patrol the area, picking up litter and keeping the trash cans usable.

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While trash control is important, so are the porta-potties. Volunteers consult the maps and mark the grounds for locations of these necessary facilities.

Maps also denote the location of the lighting fixtures for large events and the emergency routes allowing ambulance and fire truck access to critical areas.

Nearly every square inch of space is marked on the maps, denoting the location of countless items that just seem to be there when the festival gates open.

Another very important component that evolves over the week is water distribution and electricity. There are teams of professionals who work to bring those necessary services to fruition. Even the use of backup generators is on-site in the event of an unexpected power outage, as just so happened right as the evening band was beginning a couple of years ago. The night's entertainment was quickly saved.

Our EMA, police, sheriff's deputies, fire departments, paramedics, auxiliary police, horse search and rescue teams, and a long list of other safety personnel are on-site as well.

Stop out this weekend and check out what the volunteers have brought you. Even better, volunteer your time and join their ranks of sharing with Lincoln.

[By ROY LOGAN]

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