The eighth annual Waterford Balloonfest runs through Sunday, July 22, on the Evergreen Elementary School grounds at 817 W. Main St. The free festival, presented by Triple Crown Products in Waterford, features hot air balloon activities (including competitions, launches and night glows), food, craft and business vendors, a beer garden, live entertainment stages for kids and adults, helicopter rides, tethered balloon rides, an outdoor movie, kids activities and more. (File photo by Terry Alby)

Eighth annual festival runs through the weekend

By Tracy Ouellette

Staff Writer

Waterford’s eighth annual Balloonfest lifts off July 19 and flies until July 22 on the Evergreen Elementary School grounds at 817 W. Main St.

The Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce festival is presented by Triple Crown Products, Waterford, and features live music, kids activities and entertainment, arts and crafts market, beer garden, helicopter rides, tethered balloon rides, laser light show, sky diving demonstrations, pancake breakfast on Saturday, outdoor movie night, night balloon glows and food vendors.

Admission to Balloonfest is free.

On stage at Balloonfest this year will be the Lunch Money Bullies at 7 p.m. on Friday and Chasin’ Mason at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Both bands will perform on the Barnes Road Beer Garden Entertainment Stage.

The festival has added a few new events to the lineup.

“We have Milwaukee Rotocross Racing coming to race drones,” Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Angie Sterling said. “It’s an up-and-coming sport and we’ll have 24 pilots coming in for that.”

Also new this year, the festival will feature a national balloon competition.

Balloon championship joins festival

In February, the chamber WindDancer Balloon Promotions and the Balloon Federation of America announced the 2018 U.S. Women’s National Balloon Championships will be held in conjunction with Balloonfest.

According to the chamber, the Balloon Federation of America’s Hot Air Balloon Competition Division voted unanimously to award the championship to Waterford.

“Waterford was lucky enough to win the bid to host the women’s national pilots’ competition and we have 14 female pilots coming in to compete Thursday and Friday,” Sterling said. “Waterford is the only place it’s happening in the United States. It’s a big race.”

Sterling said a total of 29 hot air balloons will be at the festival this year.

“That’s double what we usually have because of the race,” she said.

The effort to obtain the championship was led by Ken Walter, owner of Wind Dancer Balloon Promotions, who serves the organization as the overall Balloonfest event director. Walter said factors such as organizational strength, flying area, community support, proximity to major population areas, time of year and volunteer base are all considered in awarding the event.

The U.S. Women’s National Championship will run July 18 to 22. Balloonfest will add additional hot air balloons to the mix beginning on Friday, July 20, and running through the weekend.

The annual festival attracts about 20,000 visitors each year, but Sterling said with the national competition, organizers were hoping to see 25,000 to 30,000 attendees.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed for beautiful weather and great competition,” Sterling said.

Schedule of events

FRIDAY, JULY 20

6 a.m. – Hot Air Balloon Competitive Flight

4 to 10 p.m. – Festival open

6:15 p.m. – Opening ceremonies with skydiver demo and hot air balloon competitive/fun flight

7 p.m. – Lunch Money Bullies on stage at the Barnes Road Beer Garden

8:30 p.m. – Hot Air Balloon Night Glow

Midnight – Beer garden closes

 

SATURDAY, JULY 21

6 a.m. – Hot Air Balloon Competitive Flight

6 to 11 a.m. – Pancake breakfast

11 a.m. to 10 p.m. – Festival open

1 to 3 p.m. – Hot Air Balloon Pilot Meet and Greet

6 p.m. – Opening ceremonies with skydiver demo and mass hot air balloon ascension launch

7 p.m. Chasin’ Mason on stage at the Barnes Road Beer Garden

8:30 p.m. – Hot Air Balloon Night Glow

10 p.m. – Outdoor Family Movie

Midnight – Beer garden closes

 

SUNDAY, JULY 22

6 a.m. – Hot air balloon launch window and

tethered balloon rides

Times for hot air balloon launches and glows are approximate. All events are weather permitting.

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