Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival returns after pandemic sabbatical

COSHOCTON – After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival returns June 10-12 at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds, 707 Kenilworth Ave.

Patty Cramer, a longtime festival committee member with her husband Ken, said they were devastated by the cancellation last year but knew it was badly needed. The Cramers have competed in 39 of the event’s 40-year history, including Ken as a pilot for 22 years.

“It was a really tough decision to make,” Patty said of the festival’s cancellation. “It was a disappointment for everyone, the drivers, all the members of the committee. Obviously, we work all year to organize it.”

Schedule 2021

20 hot air balloons will take off. There will also be food and other vendors throughout the three days. Hot air balloon rides, popular in the past, will not be offered due to the pandemic. Nor touch a truck for young people.

“We don’t think it’s time yet. There are too many people too close and we don’t want to put any of our volunteers at risk,” Patty said.

Three balloons will be launched at 7 p.m. on June 10. An opening ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on June 11, followed by R&D Duo at 6:30 p.m. A balloon launch will take place at 6:15 p.m. with the Balloon Night Glow at 9:15 p.m. Night Glow will light up hot air balloons by lighting propane burners set to music.

The balloons will be launched at 6:30 a.m. on June 12 from the countryside. The Whiz Bang science show will take place at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Victoria KayBirds will play at 6:30 p.m. The balls will leave at 6:45 p.m. with a golf ball drop at 7 p.m. and fireworks at 9:45 p.m.

Night Glow, a popular attraction during the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival, attracts spectators from all over.  He will be back this year after the festival took a year off for the COVID-19 pandemic.  The festival will take place June 10-12 at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds.

Friday’s Balloon Glow will be dedicated to Liberty Township’s Socrates Rettos, who died in February 2017. Patty said it has been a tradition since his death. Rettos started out as an observer at the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival with his father, John Rettos. He then becomes a debriefer and ends up buying his own balloon and flying at the festival for several years. Patty said he was the only local balloonist other than Ken.

“We want to continue honoring Soc’s memory and this is a great way to do that. When you see those flames it’s hard not to choke,” Patty said.

The Saturday golf ball drop is new. Weather permitting, 150 golf balls will be dropped from the Touchstone Energy Balloon. The ball that lands closest to the target wins for the person with that numbered ball.

Balls are $10 each. Profits will be shared, with one-third going to the winner, one-third to the balloon festival fund and one-third to the Coshocton County Agricultural Society. Balls can be purchased by calling Tom at 740-502-4433, John at 740-294-1386, or the board office at 740-622-2385.

Patty said with the elimination of tethered balloon rides, the golf ball drop was designed as an alternative fundraiser for the fairgrounds and festival, which will donate its share to the Frontier Power Community. ConnectionFund. If all the balls are sold, it’s $500 for each game.

“We tried to think of something that might help a little bit. We’re starting small this year,” Patty said of the golf ball.

New to this year's Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival will be a Saturday golf ball drop from the Touchstone Energy Cooperative balloon.  The person whose numbered ball lands closest to the target will win.  Balls are $10 each.  The festival runs from June 10 to 12.

Nice to come back

Patty said they were lucky that all the sponsors came back from last year. Each balloon has a local sponsor that allows pilots from everywhere to come in and fly. Frontier Power has been the main sponsor of the event for 14 years. Patty said other people have also reached out, like Mayor Mark Mills, to see what they might need.

“We just have great cooperation,” she said. “I would say the community is anxious and ready.”

She would also like to thank the other members of her committee. They are only nine to lead the organization each year.

“We’re the ones putting up fences, hanging signs and putting toilet paper in bathrooms and doing all that stuff,” she said. “I don’t think most people understand that there are really only nine people, but we couldn’t do it without the support of others.”

This support and enthusiasm extends beyond Coshocton. Patty said the Coshocton Convention and Visitors Bureau has received many phone calls and emails requesting information about the festival. She said local campgrounds and hotels are already booked.

Since they don’t charge for admission or parking, they don’t have a number of attendees. However, one can easily see that the festival is a big draw and has a huge economic impact.

“All the drivers and crew are from out of town. A lot of the spectators are from out of town. While they’re here they go eat, buy gas, run to Walmart to buy a sweatshirt or whatever,” Patty said. “The festival brings in a lot of money for the community, there’s no doubt about that.”

Although she and Ken enjoy helping the pilots and seeing the balloons go up, they often look away as they go up. Patty said seeing the reaction of others was what she loved the most.

“We love seeing the expression of wonder and joy on the faces of children and the elderly. Adults are also excited, but just to see little children’s faces light up. And you also meet so many people old people who are just in awe,” Patty said.

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