Event Spotlight: All Ohio Balloon Festival

Melissa Kossler Dutton
Visitors gather for the balloon glow.

Families who trek to Marysville for the annual All Ohio Balloon Festival will find plenty to interest them—both in the sky and on the ground.

The event, scheduled for Aug. 9-11, will feature about 30 hot air balloons as well as planes and helicopters, said event coordinator Marie Woodford. Festival guests can sign up online to take a variety of balloon, helicopter and plane rides for a fee. They also can check out a B-25 bomber, a plane used by the Allied forces in World War II.

“Families will discover good music, great food and an environment where kids and adults can have fun and enjoy hot air balloons,” Woodford said.

Iconic rock band ZZ Top will perform the headline concert Thursday night. Proceeds from the show will benefit Impact 60, a local charity that addresses hunger, homelessness and heroin addiction.

But hot air balloons are the prime focus of the weekend. Fan favorites Darth Vader and Yoda fromStar Wars will return this year. Visitors can watch a balloon launch at 6 p.m. daily, weather-permitting. Later in the evening—after the aircraft return—they will gather for a balloon glow. Pilots will inflate and illuminate the balloons, creating a light show coordinated to music, Woodford said. “It really is spectacular.”

Another family-friendly element of the All Ohio Balloon Festival is Kidz City, which features bounce houses and other inflatables designed for children ages 10 and younger. Kids can jump from 2-8 p.m. for $10.

The annual event, begun in 1975, attracts about 30,000 people each year. Proceeds benefit the United Way of Union County.

Families enjoy the festival because they have a chance to interact with the operators and ask questions, Woodford said. “They love to come here and see how something that large can fly,” she said. “We try to provide opportunities for the crowd to interact with balloon pilots.”

All Ohio Balloon Festival

When: 5-9 p.m. Aug. 9 and 2-9 p.m. Aug. 10-11

Where: Union County Airport, 760 Clymer Road, Marysville (Parking entrance is at 15000 Weaver Road.)

Cost: $30 to $40 Thursday; $10 Friday and Saturday, free for children ages 10 and younger. Cash only. Parking is $5.

For more information: allohioballoonfest.com

SCHEDULE

Thursday

5 p.m. – Helicopter rides until dusk; B-25 flight

5:30 p.m. – Dan Orr Project

6 p.m. – Balloon launch

8:30 – ZZ Top concert

9 p.m. – Balloon glow

Friday and Saturday

2 p.m. – Helicopter and biplane rides until dusk

5 p.m. – Balloons arrive; concert (Friday, Michael Christopher/Jacked Up; Saturday, Blu Kuda)

6 p.m. – Balloon launch

8:00 – Concert (Friday, Locash; Saturday, Bon Journey)

9 p.m. – Balloon glow