Anyone who has driven by Petrack Park is sure to have noticed mass trenches throughout the site, as a project to upgrade the park’s lighting is underway.
Less than a month from today, the 2017 Pahrump Balloon Festival will take flight at Petrack Park for the fourth consecutive year.
The three-day annual event, from Friday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 26, will feature more than 30 hot air balloons at the venue along with food, arts and crafts vendors and the popular carnival, courtesy of Pahrump’s Davis Amusements.
Vicky Hilling, events coordinator for the Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce, said she was assured the balloon festival will not be affected by the ongoing work.
“I am told the work should be completed before our Feb. 24 kickoff,” she said.
Matt Luis, Pahrump Buildings and Grounds supervisor, said the park will be ready in time for the balloon festival.
“The A field lighting trenches will be covered and we will have it under safe conditions,” Luis said. “The old lighting will be the lighting that they use, while the new lighting will be up two weeks after the festival.”
Luis did lament however that recent rains in the valley have created little setbacks.
“The rains that we’ve had have been creating challenges for us but it still won’t be a problem,” Luis said. “We started this lighting project with the paperwork and everything else last July and it just got hung up, but we will be ready for the balloon festival.”
The event opens at 6 a.m., followed by the national anthem and a fixed-wing flyover.
The actual balloon liftoff is scheduled for 7 a.m., weather permitting.
Hilling said everything appears to be moving along quite well, as there’s still space for more vendors to sign on.
“Those interested in becoming a vendor can go to our website, which is pahrumpchamber.com and download the application,” she said. “Once they get it all filled out and get it back to me, we will get them a booth. Most of the vendors this year are food, arts and crafts, information and nonprofit organizations.”
Additionally, Hilling said 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.”
At present, 34 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 with all hot air balloon flights, wind and temperatures are determining factors prior to takeoff, Hilling stressed.
“These balloon events are traditionally done early in the morning when there is normally little wind,” she said. “After the winds pick up to about eight to 10 miles per hour, they can’t go aloft so these events are determined upon the winds. The day starts very early and crews will actually begin inflating the balloons at the crack of dawn as the balloons perform better when temperatures are moderate. They will actually be set up and inflated in the soccer field at Petrack Park.”
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.”
As far as taking a balloon flight, Hilling said VIP sponsorships are available to those who wish to go up.
“We have different levels of community support packages and it will come with a balloon ride and a few VIP unlimited ride packages,” she said. “We also have all-day passes for the carnival as well as the tethered balloon rides. People can come down and talk to the pilots to find out about what their schedules will be for that particular day. If you are a child under a certain age, you would have to have to be accompanied by an adult.”
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.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at email@example.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes