Susquehanna Balloon Festival returns this weekend | Local News

After a two-year hiatus, the Susquehanna Balloon Festival returns to Oneonta for its 12th year at Neawha Park on August 26.

Hosted by Destination Oneonta and sponsored by the City of Oneonta, the hot air balloon festival once again welcomes returning pilots, vendors and food trucks.

This year the festival is encouraging families to come for a day of balloons, bouncy castles, live music and a brand new cornhole tournament added this year according to David Kropp, President of Destination Oneonta.

Mike Ranieri, pilot and one of the organizers of the Susquehanna Balloon Festival will schedule rides and provide balloons through Balloon NY, Kropp said.

“We have seven pilots and they come from as far away as Pennsylvania to fly. I fly mostly in the Hudson Valley, but there are a lot of local pilots here and it’s a great reunion for all of us,” Ranieri said.

All pilots require FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) training and the balloons are inspected once a year, according to Ranieri.

The balloon festival also offers rides for $300 per person at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings, Kropp said.

“Balloons are very weather-related,” Ranieri said. “Oneonta is difficult because of the mountains and the wind. We have to take off at certain times because of the wind levels in the morning and evening.”

The festival will also feature a “Dusk Balloons” event where balloons are anchored and filled with propane and helium, which causes the balloon to glow at night.

Additionally, live music from local bands Sons of Eastwood, Rickety Fence and Redshift will be played throughout the weekend.

“Sponsorships make the event accessible to everyone and allow us to have a free family festival. The event started 12 years ago for Oneonta’s centennial and it was so well received that they wanted the continue every year,” Ranieri said.

“It’s a fun and free family event, so we encourage everyone to come and enjoy great food, vendors and live music,” Kropp said.