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Kanab, Utah's Weekly Newspaper, Serving Kane County, Utah & the Arizona Strip

Southern Utah News Front Page: February 21, 2019

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Balloons and Tunes Roundup #5 amazing

Comments like, “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” were heard during the Lantern Launch last Saturday night. Photo by KKoontz Photograpy.


By Susana Young

How do you judge the success of the 5th annual Balloons and Tunes Roundup? There are many measures. Some folks need to sit at home and look out their window. If they see balloons in the air, or have one land nearby, they are happy. This year wouldn’t have been a happy year for them.

Yet there is so much more, reflected in the photos in this newspaper.

There is disappointment that the weather wasn’t cooperative and the hot air balloons could not launch. For those who braved the cold and went to the golf course, there was fun, beauty, hard work and fine vistas.

Families gathered around a tethered balloon and learned from a Lake Tahoe-based pilot (who takes his balloon off from and lands back on a boat on Lake Tahoe) about what it takes to fly a balloon and the many adventures possible.  

Climbing into a balloon’s wicker basket and having your hands on the burner controls.

Oohhs and aahhs as several balloons inflate and seeing the beauty of their huge and brightly-colored shapes framed against the snow-covered red hills.

Wait! Was that a wedding happening in an inflated balloon?  

One couple flew from Alaska in their own plane and got to have their first experience “up close and personal” with a hot air balloon. They were ecstatic with their adventure. Their business is helicopter tours to see bears in the Alaskan tundra.

A “doodle dog” snowplowed through the new-fallen snow, oblivious to the ice building up on his snout and nearly obscuring his vision, much to the delight of on-lookers. Several visitors, canine and human, from southern Arizona experienced snow for the first time.

The bands blew away the judges and audience with their level of talent as they competed for cash. “There was an astounding level of talent and diversity of music this year, from classic rock to reggae, and from indie rock to the blues, performing old favorites and original music,” said Emily Bentley, band coordinator.  

Spectators might have chosen to dance in the aisles, not only because there was fabulous music, but also because there was standing room only, especially Saturday night. The “flying” South Central discs that kept bouncing around the audience added a festive feel to the enthusiastic crowd.

Some other noted experiences:

Finding just the piece of jewelry or leather product or wrap you’d been looking for. Or perhaps a whimsical colorfully-lit “balloon on a stick.” 

Feeling the warmth and family atmosphere at the balloon candle-sticking event on Center and Main Streets.

Munching on a foot-long corndog slathered with mustard. Feeling the cotton candy melt and the popped corn crunch in your mouth.

Launching your own wishing lantern with your family and loved ones. Gasping as hundreds of lanterns went skyward into the moonlit night.  

Hearing the squeals of delight as kids harvested the spent lanterns, eagerly awaiting turning them in for “big bucks.”

Comments overheard:

“We will be back! The people here are so nice and welcoming.”  

“This is a great event. The activities throughout the weekend really make it fun. We took an ATV tour up to the TV towers. What an adventure!”

“The red hills, the white snow, the blue sky – what a patriotic vision!”

From a visitor from Brazil: “We’ve never seen anything like this! These bands are really good and we bought several lanterns to launch.”

From a passenger on a free flight provided by Dave Baird: “Wow!  Magnificent. I can’t imagine any other place where I’d get an opportunity like this!”

From a chaperone of one of the bands: “These kids are so pumped! They performed really well this morning and now to get this opportunity to fly in a small plane. It is unbelievable! Thank you!”

From a balloon pilot: “We had a great welcoming dinner Thursday night at Juniper Ridge, and then a farewell breakfast Sunday morning. Really good food!”

The thing about balloon pilots is that they have fun whatever the weather.  They are like one big happy family. Each day, whether they fly or not, they tailgate mid-day and are known for their culinary skills. Grilled grapefruit was a popular dish this year.

Balloon pilots seemed to be apologizing for the weather. They feel bad when they don’t get to take people up. Their thrill is not only for themselves, but to be able to bring joy and excitement to the people who experience going aloft with them.

The Kane County Events and Volunteer Center thanks everyone who supported the event – the sponsors; those who provided goods and services such as propane for the balloons and hotel rooms for the pilots; the volunteers who helped put up tents and chairs and worked tirelessly throughout the event; Kanab City and Kane County officials who managed traffic and communication; and so many more who help make this year a success.

Thanks to all from near and far who participated in this event. As Balloon Meister Bryan Hill said, “We will be back next year!”

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