Friday, Aug. 03, 2012
Hot air balloons to rise over Olathe at festival next weekend
By HANNAH WISE
Special to The Olathe News
factbox1-B821815964ZWant to go? The Great Midwest Balloon Fest runs from 4 to 11 p.m., Friday and Aug. 11. Fly-in balloon races are at 6:30 a.m. Aug. 11 and 12. Festival tickets in advance at Kansas and Missouri Hy-Vee stores or at www.greatmidwestballoonfest.org, priced at $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. Tickets at the gate will cost $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. Children 5 and younger can attend for free. All tickets include admission to the evening concerts on Friday and Saturday.
More than 50 hot-air balloons will soar across the Olathe skies next weekend for second annual Great Midwest Balloon Fest.
Balloonists from around the world are expected at the three-day event at the Great Mall of the Great Plains, which will support charities including the United Service Organizations, the Olathe Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund and the Harvesters Community Food Network.
“It’s a family-friendly event that benefits some really terrific charities,” said Robbie Small, the festival organizer.
Balloonists can’t safety fly in winds stronger than 5 to 8 miles per hour, Small said, so organizers are planning events in addition to balloon races that they hope will draw more than 50,000 people to the festival. Other attractions include the giant kite flying, a paratrooper show, a balloon glow and concerts by Disney TV celebrity Shealeigh and country music artist Clay Walker.
But the main draw for balloonists is still the fly-in balloon races that begin at 6:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The competition pits balloonists against each other for national rankings as well as prize money. Some of the races involve dropping a bean-bag on a target or grabbing a cash-filled envelope off a pole.
The festival will off opportunities for non-balloonists to go up in the air, as well. Tethered balloon rides will take people 50 to 75 feet up for $5 per person from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and during the morning balloon races on Saturday and Sunday.
The festival also is offering non-tethered balloon rides that include champagne and other trimmings for $195 per person.
This is the second year for the festival to be held in Olathe.
Small said this year she is most excited about the balloon glows at sundown on Friday and Saturday.
First, balloons in shapes like a giant panda and a jack-in-a-box will start their propane tanks and begin to glow. Then the 50 other balloons competing during the weekend will also start their tanks and begin to glow. As all of the balloons inflate they will begin to rise into the sky.
“When they all start to glow it is just magical,” Small said.