Crown of Maine Balloon Fest ready to soar

17 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – The Star City’s skyline will be colorful later this week as hot air balloons will be flying high as part of the annual Crown of Maine Balloon Fest.

Presented by EZ to Use Big Book, the festival, held at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds in Presque Isle, will begin Aug. 24 and continue through Aug. 26. The event will feature hot air balloon launches as its centerpiece, including a special shaped balloon as a festival first this year. Other activities will include a demolition derby, concerts, children’s games, charity barbecue, pancake breakfast, geocaching, and displays.
“We have tried to grow significantly this year to make a great event for the people of Aroostook County and draw in people from all over the region,” said committee chair Derik Smith.
The festival will kick off with a Friday morning balloon launch, another on Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night, and wrap up on Sunday with another morning flight. There will also be balloon glows on Friday and Saturday night.
“For a balloon glow, the pilots set up their balloons at dusk,” said Smith. “Then they use the burners to illuminate the envelope so it glows … it’s really quite pretty.”
The committee also announced that some pilots would take paying passengers during their flights. Those wishing to make arrangements for a flight should contact the committee through e-mail at or call the Presque Isle Area Chamber of Commerce at 207-764-6561.
The Crown of Maine Balloon Fest is in its second year of operation. Hot air balloons were first introduced as part of the “Isle Fest” celebrations in 2004. Officials say it grew from three balloons to six in 2005, while 10 balloons flew last year.
“This year we will feature 11 to 12 balloons with a new special shape, Jumpin’ Jack,” said Smith. “That balloon is 100 feet tall and 46 feet across the base. Jumpin’ Jack will be on display Friday and Saturday evening, and will launch Saturday morning.”
The schedule of events for the Crown of Maine Balloon Fest is as follows:
Friday, Aug. 24
5:30 a.m.    Balloon Launch.
5-7 p.m.    Charity barbecue to benefit the Presque Isle Historical Society. Half chicken meal, $7; Hamburger basket, $4; Hot Dog Basket, $3.
5:30 p.m.    Ribbon-Burning Ceremony.
5:30 p.m.    Balloon Launch with Jumpin’ Jack on display.
7 p.m.    F.M. in concert.
Dusk    Balloon Glow.
Saturday, Aug. 25
5:30 a.m.    Balloon Launch.
8-10:30 a.m.    Pilot and Crew Breakfast. Public Welcome, $6, by Order of Eastern Star, Masonic Hall in Presque Isle.
9 a.m.-noon    First County Spin Off. Presented by County Physical Therapy (CPT) and Horizons Occupational Health & Wellness Services. The county’s fittest gather for a three-hour spin session with proceeds to benefit Mike Chasse.
9 a.m.-2 p.m.    Special Geocaching Event.
10 a.m.    Cruiser Bike Tour. Presented by Mojo. Space is limited. Pre-register at 760-9500.
11 a.m.-2 p.m.    Horse Drawn Cart.
11 a.m.-4 p.m.    Masonic Child ID Program.
11 a.m.-1 p.m.    Youth Activities – Big Kids (ages 5-12).
11:15 a.m.    Relay Races, 5-6 years of age, 7-9 years of age, 10-12 years of age.
11:45 a.m.    Watermelon Eating Contest. Sponsored by Star City IGA. 5-8 years of age, 9-12 years of age.
12:30 p.m.    Pizza Eating Contest. Sponsored by Big Cheese Pizza. 5-8 years of age, 9-12 years of age.
12:45 p.m.    Hula Hoop Contest.
Noon-3 p.m.    Area Entertainers.
1-3 p.m.    Youth Activities – Teen Amazing Race.
3-4 p.m.    Youth Activities – Little Kids (ages 2-4).
3 p.m.    Teddy Bear Parade.
3:30 p.m.    Cookie Stacking Contest.
3:45 p.m.    Bunny Hop Races.
5 p.m.    Westfield Jubilee Bean Hole Bean and Pig Roast Dinner at the Westfield ball field. $5.
5:30 p.m.    Balloon Launch with Jumpin’ Jack on display.
6 p.m.    Demolition Derby. Presented by the Northern Maine Fair Association. This is a ticketed event – $8 per person, $3 for 12 and under.
Dusk    Balloon Glow.
Sunday, Aug. 26
5:30 a.m.    Balloon Launch.
1 p.m.    Sunday Afternoon Music (Blue Grass, Mountain, Gospel and others).
Festival-long events include an amateur photo contest and window painting contest entries on display in downtown merchants’ windows. Daily kayak tours by Perception of Aroostook will also be offered. Shuttle service and rentals available. For details or to make reservations, call 764-5506 and ask for Leo.
Please note that all events are at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds unless otherwise noted. All balloon events are weather dependent, and launch sites may move to accommodate winds.