The 19th Annual Great Falls Balloon Festival will be held along the banks of the Androscoggin River once again, with balloons launching twice per day from Simard Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., weather permitting.
The festival kicks off Friday morning, August 19 and will run through the early evening of Sunday, August 21. This year’s theme, “Critters in the Clouds,” is a reference to the special-shaped balloons: Hootie the Owl, Annie the Ladybug and Bud E. Beaver.
A full slate of entertainment and activities will take place at both SimardPayne Park and Festival Plaza in Auburn. Local favorites Denny Breau, Terry &The Telstars and The Don Campbell Band will join more than 20 other musicians, local organizations and other entertainers to provide three days worth ofenjoyment to crowds expected to exceed 100,000 people.
“Whether you come for the entertainment or for the many food booths hosted bylocal nonprofit groups, or for the children’s area, the field demonstrations,the crafters and artists, the carnival, or the memorable experience of watchingthe balloons launch (or maybe even take a ride in one), you will certainly enjoythis free community event,” said Rick O’Brien, president of the festival’s boardof directors.
Dr. John Reeder returns as the most powerful man at the festival: theballoonmeister. Reeder, a longtime local chiropractor and professional hot airballoon pilot, has the task of coordinating the launches and has to make thedecision if weather conditions are suitable for a launch. Last year, five of six scheduled launches were able to get off the ground.
“When you’re flying, you get the sense that you’re floating,” said Reeder, who has been flying for around 25 years. “I like flying low and going right over the tops of the trees and interacting with people watching from the ground. On the morning flights, they’ll often come outside in their night clothes!”
For more information, see www.greatfallsballoonfestival.org.