Hot Air Balloon Festival floats into Hale Sept. 22-23
HALE — Now in its third year, the Hale Area Association’s Hot Air Balloon Festival will take place at the Iosco County Fairgrounds Sept. 22-23.
According to Association President Kathy Alward, this will be the first year part of the festival has been held on Sunday, as the event has typically been held on Friday and Saturday in past years.
“This is the first year we’re going to have events going on through Sunday,” Alward said. “The balloons are obviously the highlight of the weekend, but we have plenty of other great events going on during the festival.”
As the focal point of the festival, Alward said there will be between 15-20 balloons from the Southeastern Michigan Balloon Association taking flight Friday evening to kick off the event, with other flights at Saturday and Sunday morning.
The main draw of the weekend figures to be the “Balloon Glow” Saturday at dusk, with all of the balloons lighting up the night sky.
“That’s a real highlight of the weekend,” Alward said. “It’s a unique thing seeing all of the balloons lighting up the sky, and it’s been the most popular part of the weekend in the past.”
While the weekend focuses on balloon rides, Alward said the general public is not allowed to go for a ride in the balloons during the weekend. She said festival staff will be allowed to connect people with the balloon pilots to set up private rides in the future though.
“You can talk to the pilots and arrange a private ride for yourself in the future,” Alward said.
With the event growing in popularity every year, as Alward said there were between 3,500 to 4,000 visitors last year, she said there is more to the weekend than just balloons.
According to the festival schedule, some of the events highlighting Saturday include a antique and classic cars display, a book signing by Milford author Carl Sams, a 4-H petting zoo, a pancake breakfast and more.
Saturday will cap off with a wine tasting and A Taste of Hale at 7 p.m., with people paying $20 to $25 to enjoy food and drinks from local vendors at the Plainfield Township Hall.
Alward said among the many great things at the tasting, people will be able to try a wine the Rose Valley Winery in Rose City has created for the event.
“It’s already on sale at local stores,” Alward said of the wine. “It’s pretty neat to have a wine created just for our event.”
On Sunday, the festival will have such events as the Northeast Michigan Regional Farm Market, a 5K run at Hale Area Schools and more.
Events going on throughout the whole weekend include amusement rides and games, steam engine demonstrations, medieval weapons demonstrations, a 4-H petting zoo and other events.
With many local organizations and businesses involved in the festival, Alward said the event gives those involved a chance to benefit from the event as well.
“This is really a platform for our local non-profits,” Alward said. “They’ll be holding plenty of great events and they’ll have booths set up with info about their organizations, so this is a great chance for them to get some exposure and raise some money.”
Alward said the Hale Area Association will also be selling 2013 calendars that include photos from the festival itself to raise money for the association.
With the association and the St. Joseph Health System as the main sponsors of the event, Alward said there are 19 balloon sponsors and 30 total event sponsors helping make the event a success.
“We have received a lot of support to help keep this event growing each year,” Alward said. “This event takes the whole community to put on.”
For more information, visit www.haleyes.org or call Alward at 989-728-2525.