Flag City BalloonFest to soar August 12-14

It’s almost time to go up, up and away as the 22nd Flag City BalloonFest is set to take off August 12 through 14 at Emory Adams Park.

40 different hot air balloon pilots will bring their colorful airbound vehicles to take to the skies and fly over the Findlay community throughout the weekend. The event is free and open to the public.

“It’s a family-friendly event, it doesn’t cost anything to get in. We have kids areas, entertainment areas, a craft show, food trucks and all kinds of fun stuff for the whole family throughout the weekend,” said Kellie Bibler, marketing chairperson for Flag City Balloon Fest.

Up close and personal

Over the course of two decades, BalloonFest has become a staple of Findlay residents’  summer. “They’re things that people don’t get to see up close and personal,” Bibler said. “So it draws them in so they can see that. It’s just the whole ambiance of the hot air balloons, seeing them in the skies, flying over people’s homes.”

For Bibler and her fellow committee members, the Fest is more than just a relaxing weekend around a set of beautiful balloons. It’s the result of a year of planning and preparation. The group of volunteers begins work the October prior to the following August’s event, with monthly meetings working on the logistics well in advance.

“Each one of those people is in charge of their area, they’re working to update any documents, make any phone calls that we need to do, make sure we have all the permits, everything’s secure,” Bibler said.

“We meet once a month until, usually, about June,” she added. “Then we’ll start ramping up our meetings. But by this time we’ve got all our pilots secured and we’re working on getting all of our sponsors by June 1.”

From the beginning

Gathering such a large number of pilots may seem daunting, but over 22 years the festival has garnered a large number of returning attendees. BalloonFest was first launched in the year 2000 by Findlay businessman Dan Clinger, intent on hosting a celebration in honor of the new millennium.

“We have been doing this for a while, and it was started by someone who was a hot air balloon pilot, so having that person start it— he knew the pilots and he knew who to talk to, so it’s just sort of grown from there,” Bibler said.

“Our pilot relations chair … her husband’s a pilot, they own a balloon. So they’re in touch with that community, they go to different festivals and see who all is out there. The majority of our pilots keep returning year after year. We’re fortunate that we get a few new ones every year, but for the most part, we have a few returning pilots and they like the event.”

Get away from it all

In addition to the obvious main attractions, BalloonFest will feature a variety of other events, including live music (a concert by country singer Josh Melton will take place on Saturday night), the special Glow Encounter on Friday and Saturday night where the balloons will be lit up after dark, a craft show, the chance to purchase balloon and helicopter rides, craft beer tastings and more.

“We just really want to give people a chance to just come and have fun, and not have to worry about some of the stress of everyday life. Just come and enjoy time with family and the balloons,” Bibler said.

Flag City BalloonFest
August 12-14
Emory Adams Park, 1827 S. Blanchard ST.


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