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Balloons festival to fly again this fall
February 26, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
After an absence of almost 30 years, the colorful sight of hot air balloons will be returning to the Valley this September.
With the name “Old West Balloon Fest … Re-Inflated,” the event takes place Sept. 5-7 and will include a full stage of entertainment, food and a beer garden.

Brenda Leisy, director of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau, said the news has been spreading non-stop since she first made the announcement. Comments and pictures of past events showed up on Facebook. Leisy said she’s been receiving calls from area media asking about the event. And on one day, almost 50 emails filled her inbox while she was at lunch.

“The balloon pilots want to fly as much as possible, so we want to fly all three mornings,” Leisy said. “We’re also planning two ‘glows’ on Saturday and Sunday nights.”

The event can handle a maximum of 20 balloons and several pilots have already expressed interest in attending.

Leisy, along with Becky Horn, will serve as co-chairs for the balloon crew. “Becky contacted me about two years ago and asked for my help looking into a balloon re-launch,” she said. “John Grier from Scottsbluff got in contact with us. He has lots of balloon experience and has worked on several launches. He’s also been to the Albuquerque balloon festival, which is a huge one. He’s going to be a big part of making this a success.”

Grier, who’s also serving on the launch team, said it’s great to see the event coming back after such a long hiatus. “It is going to be a great weekend with lots of balloons, good flying with soft landings,” he said. Grier got the group connected with Colleen Johnson from Ft. Collins, who will serve as Balloon Meister, the person in charge of and setting up the grounds area where the balloons will launch.

Johnson will visit the area on March 27 to choose the venue, which will be announced at that time. The launch site is determined by factors like space for balloons, wind patterns and any overhead power lines.

“We’ll also be talking with Curt and Kendra, who have been staging the Kite Festival the past two years,” Leisy said. “We’d like to join up with them for the event.”

Anyone wishing to serve on a committee can contact Kim Lang at kandkmailbox@yahoo.com , Deb Gardner at deborahgardner88@hotmail.com , or Jill Allen at scbvolcenter@yahoo.com.
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