Pahrump set to host hot air balloon festival

The skies above Petrack Park and the Pahrump Valley at-large will be awash with large colorful soaring orbs as the annual Pahrump Hot Air Balloon Festival returns this weekend.

The three-day event, hosted by the Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce, begins Friday morning, Feb 23, at 6 a.m.

Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce Event Coordinator Donna Corey said more than two dozen balloonists are participating once again this year.

“We are happy to be welcoming 35 balloonists from all over the country,” she said. “Admission to the balloon festival is always free, but parking might be difficult, so you want to arrive at the park early.”

Corey made certain to note that visitors can get airborne with the tethered balloon flights held in the park, for $10 each, while official festival sponsors can enjoy an unrestrained aerial voyage throughout the town.

Of course, all of the flights are dependent upon weather conditions throughout the weekend.

Corey said all eyes will be focused upon the skies, as hot air balloon flights can only occur during optimum weather conditions.

“If it’s going to be very windy, the balloons will not go up,” she said. “We work very closely with the official Balloon Meister, to learn all of the weather patterns for this area during this time of year. The weekend of the balloon festival was chosen because normally, it is the best weekend for optimum weather conditions.”

As always, along with the balloon festival comes the carnival portion of the event, courtesy of Pahrump’s Davis Amusements.

“The carnival will be running all weekend long,” Corey said. “The carnival tickets are $20 for an all-day pass, and we’ve also added a few new rides to the carnival this year. VIP access comes when you purchase an all-day rodeo pass. It’s a bracelet which grants you VIP access, where you can come in during the glow show and be near all of the balloons.”

Another new addition to this year’s event, Corey said, involves “Art in the Park.”

“This year, we have also added balloon sculptures around the park where visitors can get their pictures taken with those sculptures,” she said. “There are some companies within the community who have taken on the task of decorating the balloon sculptures. That should be a lot of fun and we want to build this idea for the coming years.”

One popular feature among attendees each year is the much-anticipated “Glow Show,” occurring after dark, on Friday and Saturday.

Corey said more than a dozen balloonists will light up the park to the sounds of music.

“I have never seen a glow show, but I have heard from many people that it is a must-see event,” Corey said. “I am really looking forward to it myself and I can’t wait to see it. We do need more volunteers to assist the balloon crews. The volunteers can come out as early as 6 a.m. to help us set up, and I have heard that it is really fun to be part of a balloon crew.”

Additionally, the sheer popularity of the annual event is evidenced by the fact that the Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce has completely sold out of vendor spaces for this weekend’s festival.

“We opened it up for vendors back in November, and we are now full,” Corey said. “We do have many vendors that are from out of town, including Las Vegas and all over California. We also have vendors from Utah, Minnesota and other places. As always, there will be lots of great food, which I can’t wait to try myself.”

Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Erwin said he’s noticed tens of thousands of inquiries regarding the balloon festival have been made on social media in recent weeks.

“We have had 712,000 views of this event via Facebook,” he said. In all, “22,000 people have clicked on it to find more information and 15,000 have expressed interest in coming. At least a thousand people have confirmed that they are coming to the Pahrump Balloon Festival this year. I think that the larger we get, the more good we can do for the community.”

Corey meanwhile, said much of the proceeds from the event will benefit the community’s sole high school.

“This year, the Pahrump Valley High School athletic department and its boosters are front-and-center on this event,” she said. “The high school rodeo will have their event going on, which is a big fundraiser for them as well. This is not a money-maker for the Pahrump Chamber of Commerce, but it is one of the services that we provide for our community. We also have the Key Club, the Interact Club, the Rotary Club, and the Lions Club participating with opportunities to make money for their organizations. It’s nice to be able to see this event grow this large, and at the same time, see all of the community support.”

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