Chamber kicks off festival weekend, encourages safe outdoor fun
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — For the first time in its 17-year history, the Crown of Maine Balloon Festival held a weekend of events without the famous hot air balloons floating through the skies above Presque Isle.
But organizers still brought family-friendly activities to the festival, held annually during the last weekend of August since 2004.
On Friday, volunteers with the festival committee and Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce brought a socially distanced hot dog cookout and a screening of “The Wizard of Oz,” courtesy of the Presque Isle Police Department’s Movies in the Park series.
Volunteers welcomed folks to the Nordic Heritage Center, and served hot dogs in the early evening hours before the movie began playing at dusk.
Balloon festival co-chairperson Jordyn Madore noted that the committee was adhering to Maine and CDC guidelines for outdoor events. Four sections that could hold 50 people each were spaced 15 feet apart across the open field near the Nordic’s main building.
“We wanted to bring the community together safely and put on something they can enjoy,” Madore said, about the motivation to still hold the balloon festival.
Lynn Craig of Presque Isle was one of many people who came to Nordic for the hot dog cookout and movie Friday evening. She said the events this year were especially fun given how the pandemic has limited people’s chances to enjoy time together.
“I like to support the local events and it’s great that people can finally get out and about,” Craig said.
Due to predicted rain showers, the festival committee moved the Presque Isle Fire Department barbecue and Star City Syndicate concert from Saturday to Sunday evening.
Even without the balloons, Madore said that folks have still been excited to attend events that are festival staples.
“People always think of balloons, but the events that happen on the ground have always made the festival what it is,” Madore said. “It’s still an Aroostook County event that offers something for everyone.”