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65 balloons to fly in Balloon Classic Invitational

The 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Balloon Classic Invitational/Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks will be held Friday, July 29, through Sunday, July 31, at the Kent State University at Stark and Stark State College campuses. Approximate times for scheduled flights, weather permitting, will be Friday at 5:30 p.m., Saturday at 6:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and Sunday at 6:30 a.m.  There will be 65 awesome sport, commercial and special shape hot air balloons, including The Pig, Annie the Ladybug, Birthday Cake, and two Little Bees known as Joey and Lilly.    

The participating pilots have impressive credentials and hail from 13 different states, including 35 from Ohio. Canton is only one of the many locations they have seen from a bird’s-eye view. Many of these pilots have flown all over the world including Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Soviet Union, Spain and Zimbawbe. 

The Dawn Patrol will take place on Friday, July 29, at 5 a.m. If you are an early bird, you won't want to miss this photo opportunity! Pilots will take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. These balloons create a very strange appearance in the early-morning sky, especially to those on the ground never having experienced this show in the past.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Balloon Classic Invitational, and additional activities over the ballooning weekend include:

  • Some pilots will compete in a team format for a prize package valued at $19,000, while others will fly "fiesta" in a non-competitive format.
  • All will participate in a $3,000 Pole Grab where the pilots will maneuver their balloons over a pole erected on the launch field and attempt to grab the cash from the top of the pole.
  • 19 pilots will participate in the "Night Glow" on Friday at 9:45 p.m., when they illuminate their balloon envelopes while tethered at the launch field.
  • The Balloon Education Area, sponsored by Uncrustables, will provide a special opportunity for adults and children to enter a fully inflated balloon envelope and learn about the envelope, balloon basket and burners.

Residents of Stark County can participate in the ballooning excitement by allowing a balloon to land on their property. To signal pilots for landing, place a white sheet in a 200 ft. x 200 ft. grassy area. The landing area must be clear of trees and power lines as well as allow enough space for the balloon to land. The pilots offer landowners the chance to win a $100 U.S. Savings Bond in appreciation of land use.

Great food and entertainment are also on tap at the Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks held on Friday and Saturday evenings. There will be a variety of food from more than 20 vendors, a playground of inflatables for children and musical concerts. Friday night concerts include performances by The Wild West Band at 6 p.m. and Outlaw, sponsored by the Red Dog Saloon at 9 p.m.  Saturday night’s line-up starts with Line of Defense at 4 p.m. followed by Brighter Side at 6:30 p.m., with Breakline at 9 p.m.  Food Fest hours are Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11:30 p.m., with a spectacular fireworks display on Saturday at 10 p.m.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Balloon Classic Invitational/Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks event is presented through a cooperative effort between the Canton Regional and Jackson-Belden Chambers of Commerce. For more information, call Laura Perry at (330) 458-2054.


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