ASHLAND, Ohio — After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 Ashland BalloonFest, the event is back this year for its 30th year of high-flying fun.
“This is a premier event for our community,” said Pilot Liaison Sue Kelley. “Our pilots are excited about being back in the air and being able to fly.
Typically, there are between 20 to 30 balloons participating, with the record being 39 balloons in 2005. This year, roughly 27 balloons will be on display.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be able to do something for the community and to give back and do something special for Ashland,” Kelley said.
Weather concerns on Saturday morning kept the balloons from taking a morning flight. Typically, pilots prefer the wind speeds to be in the single digits. It doesn’t take much to cause the balloons to make for a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.
“We Normally like to fly with winds between three and six or seven miles an hour for takeoff and landing,” said Greg Miller, who is the air boss for the entire show and responsible for all the balloons in the sky.
The event is free to the public, but parking on-site is $6. Thousands of spectators are expected to come out for the weekend to see the balloons, some of which are 80-feet tall and 75-feet wide.
“If you think of a basketball or a soccer ball is about the size of one cubic foot,” Miller said. “If you turn the balloon upside down and fill it with 90,000 basketballs, that’s the amount of air it can hold.”
Organizers are keeping a close eye on the weather conditions to determine whether the balloons can take off Saturday evening.
Regardless, even if the balloons can’t get off the ground there are there are stage performances, food stands and interactive displays. Balloon Glow is a nighttime display where the hot air balloons line the launch field and glow against the night sky choreographed to music.
“We have a saying, ‘we’d rather be on the ground wishing we were in the air, than in the air wishing we were on the ground,’” Miller said.
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