‘Balloonfest, Air Show and So Much More’ returning for 13th year

HUGHESVILLE — For the 13th year in a row, the “Balloonfest, Airshow and So Much More” is coming back to the Lycoming County Fairgrounds on Saturday. The event, hosted by the Rotary Clubs of Lycoming County, will see hot-air balloons launching as early as 5:45 a.m. (if weather permits), and will run until 9 p.m. Gates for the mid-day events will open at 10 a.m.

“In some ways, it seems like we have been doing this forever, but in other ways it feels like it was just yesterday,” said event chair Sandy Spencer. “We are so thankful for what we’ve learned along the way and the committee members who have grown with us.”

Keeping fun in abundance throughout the day, the Balloonfest features lots of great activities for children and adults alike, including BMX performances, ATV drag races, helicopter rides, bounce houses, model airplane displays, magicians, a heavy equipment rodeo, axe throwing and live music. All vendors and displays will also be available to patrons as soon as the gates open.

“It is a unique, first-class, family-friendly, affordable event with something for everyone,” said Spencer. “There is nowhere else in there area where you can go to see so much for so little. Our entertainment line-up is very diverse and we strive to offer new and exciting things to see and do, while also bringing back the favorites.”

For most, the “favorite” part of the day is in the air show, which will once again include the skydiving group Team Fastrax which will perform its “On Time, On Target” routine. The performance sees the team unfurl a huge American flag while circling it with streamers, and always impresses onlookers. Another part of the air show that is sure to get patrons excited will be the solo aerobatic performance from Mike Goulian of Goulian Aerosports, an air race team that performs all across the country and in the Red Bull Air Race World Championships annually.

Participating in the air show for the first time this year will be Paradigm Aerobatics, a group that flies with paramotors, which are large fans worn on the back with special parachutes. Using this unique equipment, the Paradigm Aerobatics team is able to “run” in the sky and perform stunts and formations as a unit. Members of the team hail from wide-ranging places like Florida, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Spain.

Of course, the other big attraction during the day is the launching of hot-air balloons, which happens early in the morning and again in the late afternoon (5:30-6:30 p.m.), if weather allows.

“In the words of our Balloonmeister, Rebecca Elkins, a hot-air balloon ride is like ‘floating in a bubble’ and that is true,” said Spencer. “Seeing them inflate and then lift off and float away is always exciting for us.”

Another great aspect of the day for Spencer is seeing the collaborative efforts of the four Lycoming County Rotary Clubs — Hughesville, Montoursville, Muncy and Williamsport — pay off with a widely loved event that helps to raise Rotary awareness.

“Working with this team of volunteers is amazing! It is a blessing knowing just how committed each team member is to the success of the event,” said Spencer. “All are truly volunteers — no one is paid — and they volunteer to help with a particular part of the event, and they take care of it.”

Though the event isn’t a Rotary fundraiser, as all funds generated go directly back into sustaining and improving the Balloonfest, it does help exemplify the Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self.”

“Many times, people understand Rotary helps in initiatives around the world — there will be opportunities to support Hurricane Dorian survivors at this event — but we also would like people to see what we do for our local community,” Spencer said.

Spencer stressed that the event would not be possible without the monetary contributions and services offered by its sponsors, many of which have been helping fund the Balloonfest since its inception.

“It allows us to offer so much for so little, and we appreciate that,” she said.

For more information visit www.LCRotary.com or www.facebook.com/lcrotary.