The 2022 Lake Havasu Balloon Festival & Fair took off this weekend for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. And even though most of the balloons remained on the ground due to high winds, local nonprofits could fly away once profits are distributed this spring.
For more than a decade, participating organizations including London Bridge and Daybreakers Lions Clubs; as well as the Rotary clubs Sunrise, Lake Havasu and London Bridge; guided the event and split its proceeds among dozens of Lake Havasu City nonprofits. Through 2020, the event has raised over $1 million for local charities – but when the event was canceled last year, these nonprofits were suddenly cut off a once predictable source of annual revenue.
According to Balloon Festival director Steve Ticknor, however, this year’s receipts could exceed those harvested before the pandemic.
“This year has been absolutely fantastic,” Ticknor said. “We had a very good turnout and everyone who was here on Friday got on the plane. Mother Nature was uncooperative Saturday and Sunday, but people came and still enjoyed the live music, dog shows, and all the events we had to offer.
Ticknor was forced to stay home during this year’s festival after testing positive for coronavirus. The leadership of this year’s festival has been assumed by former Balloon Festival President Jim Day.
“The events continued and lots of people came out to enjoy the entertainment,” Day said. “There was some good action, which was a pleasant surprise. And despite the wind, there were a lot of people crossing the gates.
Last year’s Balloon Festival may have been canceled, but the annual Balloon Festival Golf Tournament and 5K Run went ahead as planned. Last year’s events raised approximately $20,000 for Havasu nonprofits. As of this week, Day said Balloon Festival employees are still compiling information and tallying total ticket sales and dividends from this weekend’s event. But with more participants in this year’s 5k run and golf tournament, as well as the success of the festival itself, Day and Ticknor are expecting a relative windfall this year.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Ticknor said. “We appreciate the community support. We are still waiting to hear the attendance figures, but I think we may have raised more money this year than in 2020.”
Proceeds from the hot air balloon festival are expected to be distributed to participating organizations by March, with each club to distribute donations from the event to their choice of Havasu charities. Two years ago, Ticknor said the event raised about $150,000, which was split among Havasu nonprofits.
The Daybreakers Lions Club, once an active participant in the event, withdrew from the list of organizing members of the Hot Air Balloon Festival this year. The Kiwanis Club of Lake Havasu City assisted the festival in place of the Daybreakers.
According to Ticknor, merchandise from this year’s Balloon Festival will remain available at the Balloon Festival organization’s storefront at 2109 McCulloch Boulevard.
The Hot Air Balloon Festival shop will remain open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until this Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Tuesday to next Thursday. The store is expected to remain open until the end of February.
For more information on hours of operation or availability, call 928-505-2440.