By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON – Colorful hot air balloons will soar over Anderson this weekend in a last hurrah to summer. The graceful giants will quietly fill the skies after Balloons Over Killbuck kicks into gear Friday afternoon.
The festival runs through Sunday, with plenty to see and do for everyone in the family. The event takes place at Anderson’s Municipal Airport, where parking is free and admission to the event is just $3. The event benefits Riley’s Children’s Hospital.
This is the third year for the festival, and the second time it has been held at the airport. Thirty balloons are expected to be on the field for the competition event sanctioned by the Balloon Federation of America. Pilots who compete can garner points that will ultimately determine Indiana’s state champion.
Last year’s event suffered from poor weather, but event director Bob Owens is optimistic that there will be no rain and winds will favor the balloons this time around. He said that winds must be less than 10 miles per hour for the balloons to fly. If Mother Nature cooperates, balloons will be up, up and away for several competition flights during the weekend.
The festival also holds some airborne opportunities for visitors. Pilots will be offering 45-minute balloon flights for $200. Tethered rides will also be available to festival goers. Cost is $12 for adults and $7 for kids 7 and under. Helicopter and plane rides will also be available.
Both Friday and Saturday night, the balloons will be on the ground for a special spectacle.
“For most people, that’s one of the neatest things — the balloon glow,” said Owens. During the glow, the balloons remain earthbound but they’ll be inflated and lit up, with all their fantastic colors glowing in the night sky. It’s a great time to check out the balloons, get pictures and talk to pilots. For kids, it’s also time to go trick or treating, since the pilots will have treats for the kids.
All throughout the weekend, there are plenty of other activities at the festival. Food, craft and merchandise vendors will be open for business. Carnival rides and bounce houses will keep kids engaged. The Wheels on Fire Car Show will return on Saturday, this year featuring some race cars as well as the classics.
A skydiving demo will include an actual jump, with some explanatory follow-up on the ground. The Anderson Police Department will also have a canine demo.
There’s ample musical entertainment, too. The Intergalactic Caravan Band and Shake Down Band perform Friday night. On Saturday, the lineup includes Ian Matthew Smith, Tim Nolan, Meadow Ryann Band and Cowboy Casanovas Band.
Owens has overseen the festival since its inception, with help from Beth Hopkins. Owens became a hot air balloon fan when he was just 14, when he saw a balloon tethered for a bank grand opening. He stopped to help out with it. After giving a hand, the pilot later offered the young man a balloon ride.
“I’ve pretty much been addicted since then,” said Owens. He’s currently a student pilot. Owens first soloed a hot air balloon about three years ago. Although Hopkins doesn’t plan on becoming a pilot, she’s taken instruction in hot air balloons. The two are looking forward to the festival, and hoping to see it flourish.
“I’d like to see it become a staple of the community,” said Hopkins. She said she especially enjoys seeing the reactions of the children.
“Kids – their little faces – when they see those great big balloons – they just light up. It’s really, really cool,“ said Hopkins.
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If you go What: Balloons Over Killbuck Where: Anderson Municipal Airport, off of St. Rd. 32 east of Rangeline Rd., near Chesterfield When: Friday, Oct. 25, 3 to 11 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m, Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. More info: Admission $3. Free parking. For more info, check the website at www.balloonsoverkillbuck.com. Balloons over Killbuck schedule Friday, Oct. 25 3 - 11 p.m.: Gates open, vendors open 5 p.m.: Mass ascension 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Intergalactic Caravan Band 6 - 10 p.m.: Tethered rides 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.: Night glow 8:30 - 10:30 p.m.: Shake Down Band Saturday, Oct. 26 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Gates open 8 a.m.: Competition flight 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Vendors open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Wheels on Fire Car Show 12 to 1:30 p.m.: Ian Matthew Smith 1 p.m.: Skydiving demo 1:30 p.m.: APD Canine demo 2 - 3:30 p.m.: Tim Nolan 3:30 p.m.: APD Canine demo 4 p.m.: Skydiving demo 4 - 5 p.m.: Skyline social 5 p.m.: second competition flight 6 - 7:30 p.m.: Meadow Ryann Band 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.: Night Glow 8:30 - 10:30 p.m.: Cowboy Casanovas Band Sunday, Oct. 27 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Gates open 8 a.m.: third competition flight 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Vendors open