While those dates fall on Friday and Saturday, the
first festival events will actually occur on Thursday, August 25th.
Returning to the festival this year, Symphony of Lincoln is planning
to revive the annual dinner in the parking lot of the facility.
Meanwhile, it will be Media Night at the Logan County Airport.
At the airport, a selection of balloons scheduled to make the
weekend flights, will inflate and do hot air rides for members of
the media. According to Lincoln/Logan County Chamber Director Cathy
Wilhite, there will also be a ribbon cutting ceremony held on that
evening, and perhaps a few other special activities to be announced.
Events Coordinator for the Chamber, Kari Adams, along with Wilhite
explained that though Symphony bowed out last year, this year the
staff and management are excited to be bringing back the evening of
free food and entertainment that is open to the public. It was
explained that last year, Symphony was wrapping up on some
remodeling projects, and staff had a lot of extra work at the time.
The management decided it was in the best interest of the residents
as well to skip a year for the free dinner. However, this year, they
are excited to be coming back and are planning an even larger
celebration than in the past.
Adams said that the public should expect great food, great
entertainment, and some extra surprises for the youngsters. More
details on the Symphony events will be offered at a later date.
Wilhite said that the city of Lincoln will once again be sponsoring
the special shape balloon. Again, the Chamber will keep us in
suspense just a little bit longer. Wilhite said the special shape
would be announced soon.
Adams said the Chamber is excited to announce that this year the
Chicago Kiters will be at the Festival, and they will be allowed to
fly their kites at the Logan County Airport. Last year, a
last-minute announcement from the Federal Aviation Administration
forced the kites to leave the airport, which put a slight damper on
the event as some people who came to view the kites were unable to
Adams said that on Thursday she received word from the FAA that the
kites could fly at the airport. She said she is still waiting to
hear whether or not they will be able to fly their giant kites. She
said the FAA establishes those rules. The Chamber and the Chicago
Kiters must go by what that agency tells them. If the giant kites
are not allowed, the Chicago group has smaller kites that will be in
the air instead. The kiters will also guide children in the kite
making process and kids should be allowed to try out their finished
products while at the airport.
Also for kids this year, Wilhite says they hope to bring in a
petting zoo. She explained that she wants the event to be
family-friendly with activities and sights that will be fun and
entertaining for children.
Live musical entertainment at the airport on both Friday and
Saturday evenings has been a standard event. Wilhite said that the
bands would be announced after the close of the Logan County Fair,
but the local community is going to be very excited for one band
that is set to perform on Friday night.
Adams added that there will be no shortage of food offerings on
Friday and Saturday. She said there would be at least 28 to 30 food
vendors at the airport; many are returning favorites that we see
Wilhite and Adams both said they are very excited about the
community involvement and support the Balloon Festival receives.
Wilhite noted that the festival is very good for the city of Lincoln
on the whole as it brings thousands of people to town, where they
may take in other tourist attractions and shop the local stores. She
said the local business owners know and appreciate that the festival
is good for Lincoln and Logan County.
In addition, area children who participated in the summer reading
program at the Lincoln Public Library benefit from the festival, as
the Chamber provided free passes to the Library which were in turn
given to all the children who successfully participated in this
yearís summer reading program.
She said that the visitors are also hyped up about the upcoming
event. The Chamber office receives calls all the time, folks asking
about the festival and confirming the dates so they can make their
Wilhite said folks are also excited about the hot air balloon rides
that are being sold. This annual event allows visitors to book an
actual ride with a balloonist, not just a tethered ride at the
airport. The rides will be given at the lift-off events on Friday
and Saturday at the airport. Those riding as a guest will experience
the thrill of floating through the air and looking down on our
expansive prairie land for a new perspective. They also get the rush
of the unpredictable landing that can be gentle as a feather or
sometimes a little bumpy. Wilhite said several flight tickets are
already sold, but there are a few still available on a first-come,
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Those who just want to just get their toes wet on the idea of flying
will still be able to take the tethered balloon rides at the
airport. With these rides, the hot air balloon is tied down to an
anchor vehicle. Guests can ride straight up, and view the airport
activities from a loftier height, then come back down for a soft
landing. Wilhite said this is a popular event at the airport each
year, as dozens at a time wait in line for the next ride.
Weather permitting, there will be a lift-off and glow event on Friday evening as
well as Saturday evening. Adams said that the balloonists signed up for the
weekend are mostly the same as we see each year. For greater observing pleasure
for the crowd, all the balloons are invited to lift off, then half participate
in the Friday night glow and the other half in the Saturday night glow.
There will also be the fly-in target competition on Saturday morning for all
balloonists, weather permitting. In the target competition, balloonists will
leave the airport at early light to find a perfect location to inflate and
launch. In the quiet of the morning, they will then fly into the airport with
the intention of flying over a marked target on the grass landing strip. A bean
bag will then be dropped from the balloon toward the target. The balloonist bag
closest to the center will be announced as the winner of the competition.
The Friday and Saturday night events bring in thousands of guests annually. Last
year was reported to have been the largest turnout ever, with parking at the
airport coming close to full capacity. The Chamber does have a backup parking
plan if the airport should fill to capacity this year.
However, for those who wish to avoid parking at the airport and the traffic
congestion at the end of the night, shuttle rides will be offered again this
year. Adams said the shuttles would collect riders in the parking lot of the Big
R store on Woodlawn Road, and deliver them to the airport easily. Throughout the
evening on both nights, the shuttles will run to the airport and back to Big R
every few minutes, allowing guests the opportunity to come and go when they
Wilhite said once again this year; it is going to take hundreds of volunteers to
make this a successful festival. She said she is thankful for the tried and true
who volunteer year after year, and she already has commitments from some of
them, but there is a need for several more.
She said the chamber needs a minimum of 250 volunteers to work a
two-and-one-half hour shift at the airport, either Friday or Saturday, or both.
Volunteers are needed to assist with parking, to work at the gates taking
admission, handing out festival program books, working at the Chamber beverage
center, the souvenir booth, to help around the stage area, to assist with
beautification around the grounds, and help at the tethered balloon rides, just
to name a few.
All volunteers must be 16 years-of-age, and must consent to a background check.
Those who do volunteer, in addition to being a part of the largest festival of
the season, will receive a Balloon Festival Volunteer Tee-shirt, a wrist band to
the event and free parking. Volunteers will also be invited to a volunteer
dinner held on Wednesday evening, and will be publicly recognized by the Chamber
through the Chamber website or Facebook page as well as with local media.
To sign up as a volunteer, print the forms here, fill them out and return to the
Signup sheet volunteer information
sheet, shift selections Pdf
Wilhite and Adams said they are excited and feeling good about the Lincoln
Balloon Festival. They are hoping for good weather and look forward to seeing
all those colorful balloons in the sky over Lincoln and Logan County.
Wilhite noted that the festival isnít changing much this year, but why should
it. The Balloon Festival has a proven track record of success. Having said that,
she added that she does want to grow the festival in the future. She wants to
see more activities at the airport during the day, and she wants to bring to the
event more kid friendly/family friendly attractions in the years to come.
Lincoln Daily News is a proud sponsor of the Lincoln Balloon Festival and is
also a great information source for readers. In the days to come, look for the
Information Center, posted on the front page of our daily editions. There
readers will find information about festival schedules, balloonists, and other