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Southern Utah News Front Page: November 26, 2014
New Hot Air Balloon Festival in Kanab
Kanab Balloons and Tunes Roundup inaugural festival will run February 26 to March 1, 2015. The event will host a battle of the bands during the balloon festival and have a western spin. Photo by Barry Glazier.
By Camille Johnson
Kanab will host the first of many hot air balloon festivals February 26 through March 1, 2015. The festival will be called, “Kanab Balloons and Tunes Roundup” and will host a battle of the bands during the balloon festival and have a western spin.
Former Kanab resident and Balloon Festival Air Boss Bryan Hill has wanted to bring a balloon festival to Kanab for years. He has been doing the Page Lake Powell Hot Air Balloon Regatta for 12 years and the Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally for 14. These festivals have been extremely successful and continue to grow.
“This area is so beautiful, and it would be a unique environment to attract hot air balloon pilots to, and be a picturesque setting for, the colorful balloons against the red rocks and bright blue sky,” Hill said.
Vicki Hooper, the Director for Kane County Events and Volunteer Center explains, “Visitors will come to a balloon festival, but we don’t have a balloon festival without the pilots, so it’s important that we host a unique event that will attract the hot air balloon pilots to Kanab. We plan on having a western spin and introducing the pilots to our western movie history and our western lifestyle.”
Hill explains that this year he will invite 15-20 hot air balloon pilots to learn the ins and outs of ballooning in Kanab together and invite more pilots each year and grow the festival.
“We chose to do it in February because the air is dense and easier to fly in, and we hope to beat the spring winds that come each spring to Kanab. It is also a time of year that businesses would like to see visitor traffic increase,” explains Hill.
Hill will be working with Hooper and the Kane County Office of Tourism to make the event a fun, energetic event for visitors and locals to look forward to.
Hooper says there will be two days of music and fun. “We will have battle of the bands and a big street fair going on in the center of town similar to what we have during Western Legends Roundup.”
The weather in February can be nice and sunny, or be as cold as it gets in Kanab, but Hooper said they’ll be prepared for the varying weather the best that they can. They have a number of fire pits and standing heaters ready to line the streets if needed. Hooper said that the cold weather isn’t as much of a concern as the winds. “Like any balloon festival, wind is always the main concern. If it gets windy, the balloons don’t fly.”
The pilots will check-in on February 26 and be welcomed with a reception dinner and a swag bag containing some goodies from our area. “If the pilots have a good time and enjoy the area, they’ll be back year after year,” Hill explains.
Hooper adds, “The county has some fun activities planned for the pilots to showcase our area and the unique identity that is ours.”
The media will be invited to go on flights Friday morning to take pictures, experience a hot air balloon flight over Kanab, and do stories on the festival to help promote it.
“We will host a fun party on Friday for the pilots and the media, and invite the public to buy dinner and visit with the pilots,” Hooper said.
Saturday will be the main day of the event. There will be music, food, and a street fair all day. Balloon sponsors have preference to ride with the pilots on Saturday if the weather permits. There will also be a competition during the Saturday morning flight for the pilots to hit a target with a beanbag and win a sandstone trophy. The public is welcome to watch.
Saturday night the hot air balloons will line Center Street and do the traditional Balloon Glow. The Balloon Glow is one of the festival favorites and the streets are filled with spectators. Several of the balloons will be filled and the spectators get to see many of the colorful balloons lit up and glowing in a row. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen,” said Hooper.
On Sunday, March 1, those who have volunteered as crewmembers to help the balloon pilots may have the opportunity to go up on a flight if the weather permits. “We usually don’t have a problem getting plenty of volunteers,” Hill said. “The idea of being able to go up on a flight gets people pretty excited.”
Sunday, the pilots will have a final brunch together before concluding the festival.
If you are interested in sponsoring a balloon, volunteering for a balloon crew, or to sign up as a street vendor, contact the Kane County Events and Volunteer Center at (435) 644-3696. Also, go to www.visitsouthernutah.com, click on “Things to do,” and “Events” to see what activities are going on in the area.