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Crown Mountain Summerfest Balloon Bash blows up June 8-9
Growing event will include 18 hot-air balloons and a new running race
Smokey balloon
Smokey Bear is among the colorful hot-air balloons expected to fly high this weekend during the Crown Mountain Summerfest Balloon Bash. Contributed photo

For an event that is still in its toddler years, relatively speaking, the third annual Crown Mountain Park Summerfest Balloon Bash has shown a decent growth curve, one that promises to accelerate even more if some of the event’s organizers have anything to say about it.

This year’s bash, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9, will feature 18 hot-air balloons – up from 15 last year and 13 the year before – and if all goes well, Pam Wood would like to see as many as 50 or 60 balloons coming to the Mid-Valley in just a few years.

“Our goal has been to make it a nice, fun event and try to grow it,” said Wood, co-owner, with her husband Bruce, of Basalt-based Above It All Balloon Company. “We’ve always thought of it as a long-term thing, and we’d like to one day move it more into the competition range and open it up to additional pilots.”

Currently, the balloon portion of the event features some minor competitions between the pilots just for the fun of it, but if the Woods, who are in charge of signing up the balloons and their crews, can get more pilots who have experience flying in the mountains, they’d like to start including serious competitions such as races and other challenges. The only problem is that not all pilots are equipped to deal with the special circumstances that mountain flying presents.

“If someone has only flown across the plains of Kansas, for example, they’d probably have a hard time here,” said Wood.

Still, the Woods have managed to draw participants from a number of other Western states, including Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and across Colorado, and they scored a bit of a coup this year when it was announced that, to commemorate the first responders who fought the Lake Christine Fire, the Smokey Bear Balloon would be coming up from Albuquerque for the event. And while Smokey and the others won’t take part in any serious competitions this year, they’ll have plenty to do over the two days of the festival.

Saturday will feature balloon launches and tethered rides starting at 7 a.m. and again from 6:30-8:30 p.m. (due to the likelihood of higher winds in the middle of the day, the balloons will only fly in the morning and evening, when conditions are optimal). The day will conclude with the very popular Balloon Glow from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday will also feature balloon launches and tethered rides starting at 7 a.m.

The balloons may be the main draw of the event, but they’re far from the only ones. Saturday’s schedule also includes a new running race, the Calaway Give-Back Family Friendly 5K, which starts at 7:15 a.m. and will raise funds for local cancer patients, as well as food, live music and kids activities. 

Full Schedule

Saturday, June 8

6:30-7:15 a.m. – 5K race registration

7-10 a.m. – community 

pancake breakfast

7 a.m. – hot air balloon 

launch and tether rides

7:15 a.m. – Calaway Give-Back Family Friendly 5K

9 a.m.-12 p.m. – Youth Major League Baseball Clinic

3-8:30 p.m. – food, music 

and margaritas

3-7:30 p.m. – free Kids Zone featuring bounce houses 

and Foam City

5-6 p.m. – live music from Lipbone Redding

6:30-8:30 p.m. – live music from Jackson Taylor & the Sinners

6:30-8:30 p.m. – hot air 

balloon tether rides

8:30-9:30 p.m. – Balloon Glow

Sunday, June 9

7-10 a.m. – community 

pancake breakfast

7 a.m. – hot air balloon 

launch and tether rides

10 a.m.-1 p.m. – Golf in the Park