There may be some changes coming for the annual Pahrump Balloon Festival next year, due to what occurred on the most popular day of the event this year.
As more than 30 balloonists traveled into town last weekend from locales around the country for the event, rainfall on Saturday forced a halt of all flights as a precautionary safety measure.
A change is in the air
Pahrump Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jenney Sartin said she and other officials are considering altering the dates for the three-day balloon festival, due to future weather-related concerns.
“We are absolutely thinking about moving the balloon festival forward in the year,” she said. “We have already had a discussion with our board of directors and they are flexible with considering the option of moving it to a different time frame where there would be better weather. We also have to coordinate it with the balloonists, to assure that the time frame for the optimal conditions in terms of wind and temperatures for the balloons to go up. So yes, we are absolutely open to the idea of considering a time frame that’s going to be better served for everyone.”
Saturday’s rainfall aside, Sartin noted that the first day of the balloon festival went off without a hitch.
“Friday was fantastic and we couldn’t have had a more perfect day,” she said. “The weather was awesome and all of the balloons were able to go up. We had great attendance once we opened everything up and we were extremely pleased with Friday. The good news is that everyone who bought a ticket was able to ride in the balloons on Friday. All of our sponsors that showed up were also able to get their rides on Friday, so we were very pleased.”
Also on Friday, many of the balloonists took part in an eye-opening experience for those in attendance known as the “Glow Show,” where the balloons are inflated after dark, as music is synchronized with the silhouette of the flames from each balloon.
However, Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator Donna Corey spoke of a slight snag, just prior to the spectacle.
“Unfortunately we had an incident where somebody parked at the only egress from the park for those balloons, so we had to hold off on having the Glow Show, until we got those two cars moved. By that time, the wind came up and it really wrecked things. We really need help from the people who attend, to be mindful of that. We had a closed-off space and they just parked right in front of it, so that was really disappointing. Finding the people to remove those vehicles became quite a challenge.”
Sunday morning fog
On the final day of the festival, Sartin meanwhile said scattered weather conditions slightly delayed the balloonists who wanted to take flight.
“Everything picked up after the weather blew over on Sunday and we had great attendance as well,” she said. “We had maybe nine balloons that went up on Sunday, but unfortunately the morning fog created a bit of a safety hazard for our balloonists, therefore we only had nine balloons that went up. Overall, we thought the event went really well, considering Mother Nature’s interference on Saturday.”
Bucket list experience
Sartin also said she herself experienced a hot air balloon ride for the very first time during the event.
“It was absolutely amazing and it was not at all what I expected,” she said. “I’m not one of those girls that likes to take risks and heights is one of those things that makes me a little nervous. It was so peaceful and it was like floating on a cloud. The views were amazing and when we landed it was a very smooth landing. It was just really, really an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I checked an item off of my bucket list.”
Additionally, Sartin spoke about the new carnival provider for the balloon festival after the original company, Pahrump’s Davis Amusements, bowed out.
“The carnival provided by Paradise Amusements was great and they kept riding for those people who wanted to continue to ride in the rain on Saturday,” she said. “As far as them providing the carnival for both the balloon festival and the fall festival, we had a positive experience with them. None of the rides shut down and everything was operated safely.
“We have provided them with a Letter of Intent, and provided that we are able to reach a mutually-satisfactory agreement, and barring the outcome with the Memorandum of Understanding with the county, we are certainly open to moving forward with them.”
Both Sartin and Corey also praised the efforts of all of the volunteers and others who donated their time for the event by working the beer booths, manning the Chamber of Commerce trailer and assisting with the balloon launchings.
“They all were phenomenal, and each day before the balloons go up, we like to honor our country by having the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ song,” Corey said. “This year Kozue Maye, from Pahrump’s DownBeat Music Lab, sang it for us on Sunday and it was beautiful.”
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at email@example.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes
Vendors set up shop at Balloon Festival
Despite heavy rain and the resulting cancellation of the balloon flights, the 7th annual Pahrump Balloon Festival featured a diverse variety of vendors, ranging from classic carnival food stalls to new offerings such as buffalo burgers, eccentric mini doughnuts, and Indonesian barbecue.
With dozens of options to choose from, there was something for all manner of tastes (and taste-buds) to enjoy.
“We thought it’d be interesting,” Mary Richards, co-owner of the Hubb Bar & Grill in Pahrump, said. “We’ve done the Fall Fest before, so we’re hoping for success here as well.”
Nearly every stall and booth was tailed by a long line of customers at one point on Saturday, Feb. 22, the second day of the festival. The event lasted for three days.
With these increased crowds turning out for everything from dreamcatchers and T-shirts to “Tornado Potatoes,” some vendors were hoping to use this uptick in attendance to help make a difference.
“We’re looking to set up a scholarship program for our students,” Mike Maye, supervisor of DownBeat Music Lab’s teriyaki fundraiser, said, as he served up a bowl of some freshly smoked and sauced chicken.
DownBeat Music Lab offers music lessons, band rehearsals and studio recording in Pahrump.
Ever since its grand opening last year, it has made some serious strides, said Maye.
“We had a performance at the Nightmare Before Christmas event, and we’re talking about the Mother’s Day event as well,” he added.
In addition to their thriving classes, DownBeat also threw a very successful and heavily sponsored anniversary gala earlier this month. Maye also stated that they were “looking for a permanent location” to prepare teriyaki dishes to keep the fundraiser going strong, which he says will open “hopefully this year.” He added, “If anyone wants to help our kids out, reach out to us.”
—Landon Ingersoll/Special to the Pahrump Valley Times