Ohio ballooning festival is a success

The Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon and Skydiving Festival got off to a positive start on July 13th, with pleasant weather complementing the event.

Marking its 11th year, the festival saw more than 30 hot air balloons take to the skies above Smith Park, with balloonists from all over the world coming to take part in the contests. The aim of the main competition was to drop beanbags onto the target and to score the highest points over two rounds. The park then held a nightly glow, which all of the pilots attended.

Rebecca Honeycutt from Middletown attended with her three children, continuing a seven-year tradition. Their favourite balloon was a “big yellow head with sunglasses and arms sticking out”. Rebecca explained that the weather was ideal for the occasion. She also said:

“One balloon hit the ground, flipped and popped right back up…I don’t know how they do it. It’s beautiful.”

A free pancake and sausage breakfast was laid on for attendees and volunteers by the Middletown Christian School’s Foundation. Development director for the school, Roger Brandenburg, said that 12 volunteers prepared 26 pounds of bacon, 10 pounds of sausage and 2,000 pancakes.

The turnout this year was very high, and it is thought that the economic boost to the city has surpassed $2 million. This is, in part, due to the fact that competitors often stayed in local hotels and ate at restaurants in the area. On Friday and Saturday evenings, crowds also queued up all night for a new spaceship slide, further highlighting the popularity of the event.

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