From hot-air balloons to sky divers, organizers of the Lycoming County Rotary Clubs' Festival promise enough sky-high entertainment for the entire family at the county fairgrounds Sept. 15.
And the show isn't only seen from the ground.
Sandy Spencer, event chair, invites all residents and visitors to see the area from a different view - from a hot-air balloon.
CRAIG S. MCKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
"The best thing to do if you want a balloon ride, a free-flying ride, is to go to our website because there are really only five launch times during the event. One being Friday night before the event opens," she said. "The balloons in this area can only launch around sunset and sunrise because of the way the breezes are during that time."
Spencer also stressed that all rides are weather-permitting. She said if there's rain or enough fog at time of launch, rides won't be given.
"Everything is weather-permitting. We would rather have the balloons not launch than to have someone get hurt," Spencer said.
But she's hopeful that the weather cooperates because she knows first-hand the experience of going up in one.
"I've been up four times. It's very, very peaceful," Spencer said. "People are like, 'Will it be cold up there?' If there is any breeze up there, you don't feel it because you're a part of the breeze. There's no wind in your face ... It's very quiet unless they hit the burners. So you can hear people talking from the ground. They holler up to you."
Spencer said being able to float and see things from a new angle makes for some interesting experiences.
"It's basically if you could imagine being a soap bubble floating along. That's what you're doing with the breeze," she said. "I think one of my neatest experiences is as we were coming in looking for a spot to land the one time. Just going across the top of a corn field. Seeing our shadow beside us and reaching down and just being able to feel the tassel on the top of the corn stock before he landed the balloon. It's a really neat experience."
Spencer said Rebecca Elkins, the balloonmeister, is a big reason the balloons have been a big hit.
"We have a wonderful balloonmeister that has been with us from the very beginning. She brings in only commercially-licensed pilots with high hours. We have never had a problem with our balloonists. And she takes care of all of that," Spencer said.
But that isn't all there is to do.
"We've added air show attractions, which includes Team RV. That is not flying campers. That is actually the largest precision-formation flyers in the world. There's usually 12 planes that are involved with that," Spencer said. "We have the only all-female sky diving team in the world. Their first jump of the day, (a diver) jumps with a 30-by-60 foot American flag, which is a beautiful sight."
ATV drag races, magicians and other attractions, such as the National Guard, also will be on display during the event.
Spencer said the best moments are when she gets to hear stories of how the event has affected visitors' lives.
There have been two engagements on the hot-air balloon rides. And Spencer said one year, a girl who was going through chemotherapy enjoyed a balloon ride courtesy of her school.
Others have told her how the event has made an impact on their lives.
"I had a girl come up to me recently, she is with the Army National Guard, and she said 'Your event changed my life.' I said, 'What do you mean?' She said, 'Last year I signed up to be in the Guard.' And now her boyfriend is also in the Guard. So their relationship all came together and her life changed because of being at the event," Spencer said.
The event is not just an event to entertain the community, but to serve the community. Spencer said that if they make a profit, the clubs donate the money to a community organization other than Rotary.
But she did warn that "sometimes you don't have a lot left." Spencer explained that the attractions are costly to bring to the area and the clubs want to make sure the event stays affordable.
Tickets bought in advance are $5 for adults and $3 for children.
"Often times if someone would want to just see a car show, it would be at least $5, for just a car show. And (at the Rotary festival) you're getting balloons, you're getting air show, you're getting all kinds of things in addition to that," she said.
Spencer added that the organizers have worked all year on the event and put a lot of hard work into it. She said they have everything taken care of, except the weather.
"It's a rain-or-shine event. Obviously, we really pray for good weather," she said.
For more information, visit lcrotary.com.