2017 Lincoln Balloon Festival
August 25th thru 27th

Lincoln Balloon Festivalís Saturday evening launch and glow entertains thousands of visitors

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[August 28, 2017]  On Saturday evening the skies above the Logan County Airport began overcast with clouds blocking the brilliance of the sun, but not blocking the brilliance of all the beautiful hot air balloons at the 2017 Balloon Festival launch and glow.

At a little after 4 p.m. lines were forming along the routes to the airport as vehicles waited their turn to get into the airport parking lots.

Doug Luken was the volunteer coordinator for the Lincoln Logan County Chamber of Commerce. At 5:15 p.m. he said that his spotters were telling him there were long lines of vehicles waiting to gain entry to the airport from every direction, an indication of another huge turnout for the Saturday night event.

Karen Hargis was one of those waiting to get into the airport on Saturday evening. She said that traffic never came to a standstill on North Kickapoo, but slowed considerable after she reached the intersection at Keokuk Street. What was nice she said, was that while she wasnít at the airport for the launch, the balloons headed away from the airport in a southwesterly direction, meaning that vehicles waiting in line on the west side of the airport were able to watch the colorful balloons float overhead.

In the airport, people gathered on the west side viewing area, filled the grass runway where the balloons were launching, and also lined the east side of the runway in order to view the launches.

Several people there for the first time were surprised when they were told that they were permitted to go out to be close to the balloons as they were inflated. For many, especially the kids, that was a very special treat!

On the west side of the airport a special group of guests gathered. Two busses from Liberty Village in Clinton had reserved a VIP space. They set up a tent, brought in their lawn chairs, and a picnic supper. The group spent the evening enjoying the launch and glow.

On Saturday morning, local pilot Seth Goodman announced on his Facebook page that he and pilot Scott Wooge would be giving away a total of four free rides to those who posted on the page that they would like to take a ride. Goodman reported that more than 400 people responded. The winners were drawn and they were Susie Becker, Lori Charron-Blees, Jennifer Grimaldi and Tim McDougal.

Grimaldi rode with Wooge in his beautiful balloon named Eclipse. Becker and Blees rode with Goodman in Done Deal. McDougall told Goodman that what he really would like to do is experience the adventure of being in the chase vehicle. It happened to be Timís birthday, so the Done Deal crew was happy to oblige, making room in their chase vehicle for Tim to ride along.

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Once again on Saturday night, as soon as the balloons had launched, the three special shapes began to inflate, providing continued interest for the crowds as they awaited the return of all the other balloons for the evening glow.

This year balloons inflated for the glow in a double line, meaning that those in the viewing area got to see all the balloons, and with glows and flickers going on for quite some time, the landscape was filled with brilliant colors and glowing balloons for all to see.

At the end of the show, announcers encouraged everyone to not rush off; there were still plenty of things to do at the 2017 Lincoln Balloon Festival.

Musical entertainment was provided on Saturday evening by Heroso, a band from Bloomington. The group provided music until the close at 11 p.m. Food vendors were on hand to satisfy any appetite, and the Kid Zone remained open for youngsters.

While it will be a while before the Chamber is able to crunch all the numbers and determine just how successful this yearís event was, it was easy to see that the crowds were there, filling both parking areas, and overflowing along the roadside. People were counted coming in from the parking lots by the dozens, and there is no doubt that there were thousands in attendance again on Saturday evening.

Festival activities continued on Sunday with the art and craft vendors, and home based business and other vendors in downtown Latham Park.

Tomorrow, following one more day of cleanup, thereís always a mess after a party and somebodyís got to take care of it, the Chamber staff will take a deep breath and may enjoy the fact that once again they have pulled off a very successful balloon festival, done in no small part thanks to those who sponsored the event financially and also to the many who volunteered throughout the week and weekend, giving of their time to help make this an especially wonderful weekend in Lincoln.

[Nila Smith]

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