ANGOLA — Angola Balloons Aloft is in its 10th year and it is always changing, just like the winds that power the pilots.
This year, Phil Clinger, competition director for Angola Balloons Aloft, will be piloting a dawn patrol flight of a hot air balloon to kick off this year’s event, said Marsha Drewes, who with her husband Walt, are balloons coordinators for the annual event held at Angola High School. This year’s event is today and Saturday with a Sunday competition flight.
A dawn patrol flight is one where a balloon launches in the dark, about an hour before daylight. The balloon will land at about sunrise, which is about 6:15 a.m. The balloon will launch somewhere around 5:30 a.m. today, north of Angola, perhaps near Meijer.
“Very few events get to do this so I’m very excited we get to do this in Angola,” Drewes said.
Because of the weather from the past two years of Angola Balloons Aloft, a Sunday competition flight was added.
There will be 30 competition balloons this year and five fiesta balloons, which includes special shapes balloons and one balloon for paid balloon rides and tethered balloon rides.
While the public is welcome to watch the Sunday competition, the various activities that are presented with Angola Balloons Aloft will be over.
The rest of the festival will offer many activities on Friday and Saturday. Here are activities that are planned:
• Kids’ Fun Zone. On Saturday, this area will include demonstrations from Soarin’ Hawk Raptors from 2-4 p.m.; Science Central from 3-5 p.m.; and visits from Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Batman and Elsa from 3:30-5:30 p.m. There also will be bouncy inflatables available for a fee.
• Parkview Medical Center’s Samaritan Helicopter will be on hand Saturday afternoon.
• Meet the pilots. Balloon pilots will be available to meet and talk with on Saturday from 3:30-4:30 p.m.
• Helicopter rides will be available from 4-7 p.m. today and Saturday.
• The antique tractor show and classic car show will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
• Touch a Truck. This new event from JICI Construction, Angola, will bring in a variety of trucks and other equipment that children will be able to learn about in hands-on demonstrations. This will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Pancake and sausage breakfast. The Angola High School Band Boosters will host this event from 7-10:30 a.m. on Saturday. There will also be food vendors throughout the event, some of which are operated by local non-profit groups.
• The band Retro Radio will be performing both tonight and Saturday evening.
A unique partnership helps provide free parking for the event. Landowner Jim Hanna allows the event to park on his land just east of the high school. And that takes coordination with Stoy Farms, which plants the field to alfalfa. The field is usually cut shortly before the event begins. The alfalfa is used by Bridgewater Dairy to feed its cattle.
Admission and parking is free, as it has been since year one.