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Balloon festival returns as organizers watch the weather

Organizers of the Pahrump Balloon Festival have one major consideration regarding the upcoming event weekend - the wind.

“We are praying for good weather with no winds,” said Vicky Hilling, event coordinator for the Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce. “As far as the weather, you can’t fly in the rain or strong winds. The wind threshold is eight miles per hour.”

Hot air balloon events are scheduled during the early morning hours when wind conditions are calm.

Weather conditions aside, Hilling said she’s pleased to have maxed out the vendor list this year.

“We are completely full with 76 vendors this year so we can’t take any more,” she said. “We have some local vendors as well as some from Vegas and other areas. We hope a lot of people come out and enjoy themselves and have some fun.”

The three-day annual event, from Friday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 26, will feature more than 30 hot air balloons at Petrack Park along with food, arts and crafts vendors and the popular carnival, courtesy of Pahrump’s Davis Amusements.

The event opens at 6 a.m., followed by the national anthem.

The actual balloon liftoff is scheduled for 7 a.m., weather permitting.

Hilling noted that the size of the carnival portion this year has broadened.

“The carnival will be set up at Petrack Park right in the center of the baseball field,” she said. “It will be a little bit bigger than it was last year because we are trying to get a few more rides in there for the kids and adults to come out and enjoy. We have all-day passes for the carnival as well as the tethered balloon rides.”

At present, more than 30 balloon pilots from California, Utah and Nevada have signed on to participate this year.

Hilling said following the flights on Friday and Saturday, attendees will be treated to a spectacular visual experience after sunset, known as a “glow show.”

“We will be doing the glow event on Friday and Saturday night at Petrack Park,” she said. “We also have a flyer that gives out the breakdown of the schedule for this year’s event. On Friday, the carnival and vendors will be set up at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and we’ll have a full day on Saturday.”

As an added attraction, Hilling said, along with the early morning mass ascension, the pilots will also host what’s known a “cold flight.”

“There will be a retired balloon that no longer flies and the pilot will attach the basket to it where they tie it down and fill it with air so people can actually go in and walk through the balloon. We will have tickets for people to do that. They have it at other balloon festivals but it’s the first time we’ve had it here.”

The 2017 Pahrump Balloon Festival is open to the public with free entry to the park.

Advance carnival tickets are $20 at the chamber of commerce or $25 at the event. Tethered balloon rides are $10 each.

Attendees can also purchase a $25 VIP field pass during the glow shows on Friday and Saturday to get a close-up view of the illuminated balloons.

Weather forecast

Friday, sunny skies with no rain expected, high of 55, overnight low of 38.

Winds will be moving out of the south at 5 mph.

Saturday, mostly sunny skies with no chance of rain, high of 61, low of 46.

Winds will be coming out of the south-southeast at 11 mph.

Sunday, 60 percent chance of rain, high of 58, low of 43.

Winds out of the south-southeast at 17 miles per hour.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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