Balloon Fest gets underway Friday

If you see an abundance of flying objects in the air this weekend, don’t be alarmed, it’s not another alleged “UFO sighting” in town, it’s Balloon Fest time.

The 2016 Pahrump Balloon Festival takes place this weekend at Petrack Park, located at 150 N. Highway 160, kicking off Friday and running through Sunday afternoon.

As one of the larger events that takes place in Pahrump each year, event organizers expect big crowds for the event’s third year, especially with the unseasonably warm weather forecast and increased advertising efforts.

“With Chris Erwin being the new CEO and him doing a lot of Internet marketing, plus newsprint and advertising on various radio stations, we’re getting a lot of traffic to our Facebook page, with not only a lot of interest, but with people saying, yes, we’re going,” said Matt Braun, event planner with the Pahrump Chamber of Commerce. “So we’re looking at somewhere between 2,000 to 4,000 people that have said yes, we’re going.”

The move to focus more on Internet-based advertising of the event is something that Braun explained is adapting to the times.

“With the younger generation, a lot of people are always on Facebook, whether it be their phones, their laptops, desktops, whatever,” Braun said. “What we did to gain more interest was we offered two hot air balloon rides to the public in a contest. We garnered some notice through that.

“We love the newspaper and radio as well, but we also want people to get a visual. People want to know what a hot air balloon looks like. So rather than going on YouTube and looking at someone else’s balloon festival, we wanted some of our stuff.”

The chamber used a time-lapse video clip from last year’s Balloon Fest and glow show, to let people know exactly what they can expect if they choose to attend the event.

“When they see it, they say, ‘Yes, I want to go see that’,” Braun said.

There will be a total of 30 hot air balloons at this year’s event, but to catch them taking off Braun said to get there early each day.

“Balloons will launch at 7 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning. We’re actually going to do all three days flying, as long as the weather permits,” he said. “The balloons are really fun, but you’ve got to be there at 7 a.m. They’re gone through the day until the glow on Friday and Saturday nights. So to see the balloons, plan on being there early.”

A bit earlier at around 6:30 a.m., before the balloons launch, the national anthem will be sung each day there will be a flyover featuring a Mercy Air helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft.

Friday and Saturday night between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., the balloon glow event is scheduled to take place, as last year the show couldn’t take place due to weather issues.

“It will actually take place for about 15 minutes, but we made it the 6 to 8 timeframe to give ourselves a window in case the winds picks up at a certain time, or say 6 o’clock the sun isn’t fully down yet. Well, we want it fully dark.”

There will be 15 balloons inflating in the park, anchored to the ground, with one side playing to part of the music, while the other portion will flicker to the other side with the music.

“If you could picture dueling banjos, like ‘Deliverance’, we have one banjo go one side, then one banjo on the other side and it kind of simmers down and they kind of duel each other glowing,” Braun said.

The three-day event offers more than just hot air balloons floating in the sky. The event is a family-friendly one with something to keep everyone in the family entertained.

There will be 64 vendors in attendance, according to Braun, offering various items to festival goers.

Automobile enthusiasts should be excited as well, as a car show will take place Saturday and Sunday.

This year a different twist as to how the winners of the show will be chosen will get the public involved more in the event.

“The fun thing about the car show this year is instead of the cars being judged by judges, the public will actually get to judge,” Braun said. “So you’ll be able to get a raffle ticket from the Pahrump Valley Cruisers, fill out which car they like the best and the one who has the most raffle tickets will win. We’re actually giving out three people’s choice awards for that.”

There will also be two Corvettes brought in from Spring Mountain Motorsports to add to the classic cars being showcased in the car show.

This year the chamber of commerce is seeing a spike in interest from car owners over the hump, something that hasn’t been the case in years past.

“I’m getting people not only from Pahrump, but I am getting a lot of calls from Vegas saying how do I get my car in that show and show it off,” Braun said. “So we’re going to have a large turnout for cars.”

The carnival will make a return this year, bringing 10 rides for all to enjoy throughout the three-day event.

Presale tickets for the carnival are available at the chamber of commerce and Valley Electric Association for $20 in advance and $25 the day of the event. The armband will be good for rides the entire day you choose to attend the carnival.

If that is not enough, how would you like to pose with an eagle on your arm for your next social media post? You can do that at this year’s Balloon Fest as a member from the Condor Conservation Foundation will be in attendance Saturday morning with an eagle in tow.

“I have people come into my office and see my picture with a hawk on my arm and they ask me, ‘wow, how did you get to do that?’ Well, this year we have this guy coming out and he’ll have an eagle so people can actually get their picture holding the eagle.”

The photo opportunity with the eagle is donation-based, as all the proceeds raised will go to the conservation fund, to help keep the condors alive.

So if you are looking for some family fun with various activities Braun and the chamber suggest you get out to Petrack Park this weekend for an event sure to please about anyone from any age demographic.

“It’s just an all-day fun event,” Braun said. “It’s not only for one portion, it’s for the whole family.”

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @MickAkers

 

EVENT SCHEDULE

Friday

6 a.m. Petrack Park opens

6:30 a.m. National anthem and fixed-wing flyover

7 a.m. Balloon liftoff (weather permitting)

Noon Vendors open

Noon Carnival opens

5 p.m. Pilot meet and greet

6 p.m. Balloon glow (weather permitting)

 

Saturday

6 a.m. Petrack Park opens

6:30 a.m. National anthem and fixed-wing flyover

7 a.m. Balloon liftoff (weather permitting)

8 a.m. Tethered balloon rides

8 a.m. Car show opens

8 a.m. Vendors open

8 a.m. Carnival opens

8 a.m. Car seat safety check

5 p.m. Pilot meet and greet

6 p.m. Balloon glow (weather permitting)

 

Sunday

6 a.m. Petrack Park opens

6:30 a.m. National anthem and fixed-wing flyover

7 a.m. Balloon liftoff (weather permitting)

8 a.m. Tethered balloon rides

8 a.m. Car show opens

8 a.m. Vendors open

8 a.m. Carnival opens

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