The 9th Annual Balloonfest was a glowing success, despite the rainy weather on Friday.

“Despite the rain on Friday causing some standing water and muddy fields for parking, it was a successful event,” said Balloonfest Coordinator Kevin Bernson. “There were all kinds of aerial traffic: balloons, planes, helicopters, and parachutists.”

Bernson said the every year the weather is the variable. This year there was a lot of rain on Friday during the day and then it turned cold. There was frost on the pumpkin Saturday morning.

“You can plan, discuss, make improvements each year. The one thing you can’t control is the weather and that can be the most stressful thing,.” Bernson said. “The months planning, the weeks pulling things together, the days of set up can all go smooth, but ultimately, like any outdoor event you have to have perfect weather for the balloons.

“I think we plan enough things around it that when weather cane cause a snag, there are enough other things going on to keep people entertained.”

The festivities started with a pre-glow on Friday night.

“There were 3 balloons that had a glow out at Willow Ridge Winery on Friday night and there was a great turnout,” Bernson said. “On Saturday morning, all 8 balloons flew with sponsored riders. They did not have a task (contest at the airport) and landed at the airport.”

Bernson said that glow on Saturday at the airport was well-attended.

“Everywhere you look there were people doing stuff,” Bernson said. “The Shelby County Rescue squad was demonstrating how to excavate a person form a car.

The Shelby County Dive Team provided generators for the bounce houses. There were 3 big bounce houses and another one that was an obstacle course. Paddi’s Balloons was on hand for the kids.”

Bernson was impressed with the Shelbyville Fire department, because they had a fire in the morning and yet they still came out and ran their food concessions that afternoon.

“They didn’t miss a beat,” Bernson said. “The Sheriff’s department had the toughest job handling the traffic after some areas of the parking had been blocked off because of the rain.”

Bernson commended SummerSkyz, Inc. out of Champaign for their helicopter rides for a fee. They started at 10 a..m. and were stilling giving rides as things wrapped up on Saturday. They even offered a training class for a fee.

Scott Jefson, on behalf of the airport, commended the Young Eagle Flights that gave free of charge, 30-35 kids rides, in air planes. Five airplanes were used to give aspiring aviators a leg up in their passion.

Bernson thought the highlight of the day was the parachute jumpers.

“The Mid-America Sports Parachute Club from Taylorville provided the aerial entertainment,” Bernson said. “The first pass dropped streamers. Then appearing in the sky were three parachutes. They performed acrobatics, somersaults in the air. They landed right on target at the airport.”

They weren’t done.

“The second pass two more jumpers appeared and one had an American flag,” Bernson said. Joe and Emily Amato sang the National Anthemn as the flag descended.”

“I don’t know how Scarecrow Daze did down town,” Bernson said. “But on this weekend Shelbyville was the place to be.”

Bernson is already looking forward to the 10th Annual Balloonfest next year.

“We are hoping for 15 balloons next year,” Bernson said. “We are working on giving more people a chance to fly in a balloon.”

John Curtis can be reached at john.curtis@shelbyvilledailyunion.com

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