The Hot Air Balloon Festival returns to Urbana this weekend

“This year, the glow will start between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., when they come back, inflate and glow. At that time, when inflated, they will let down the barriers, and then people can stand up and close and see at how big and beautiful they are,” she said.

As the festival falls on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, a memorial service will be included during the event on the second night.

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“Saturday evening we will have a special 9/11 memorial service and recognition, starting at 5:30 p.m. Firefighters will help raise the flag and the national anthem will be played. We will have a minute of silence before the start of activities at 6 p.m. with the launch of the balloon, ”said Gonzalez.

In previous years, a hot air balloon festival ran as a full day event over two days, but ended when the chief organizer moved to Cincinnati.

“The event fell through and no one wanted to interfere. At a visitor bureau meeting, we were discussing other activities that would bring outside guests to the Urbana and Champaign County area. , and it was said, “Maybe we could do the balloon party, maybe we should bring that back.” So we formed a committee and said, “Well, we’ll go,” and that’s how it went,” Gonzalez said.

The event is held with the non-profit organization known as the Grimes Field Foundation, which helps fund the Hot Air Balloon Festival, and many other events hosted by Grimes Field Airport.

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“We hope people will come out and enjoy the sight of the ‘glow’ on the pitch,” she said.

A variety of local food trucks will be at the event, providing fun foods and meals. Spawning food trucks include Fresh Harvest Food Truck; Harvest Cool Drink Truck; K family concessions; Shred creations; Ashley’s cupcakes; Tony’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice and Cotton Candy; Laylas sweet treats; Shaved ice and Snow Sisters lemonade shakes; and Kettle Popcorn and Specialty Lemonade.

Other activities include a pizza-eating contest at 7 p.m. today, as well as a wing-eating contest at 7 p.m. Saturday. The maximum number of entrants for each contest is 20. The winner of the eating wings contest will win a $75 gift card to the Wing Bar, and the winner of the eating pizza contest will win a free monthly pizza from Marco’s Pizza .

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Games and activities for children will also be included, such as bouncy castles.

The cost of admission per person is $2 and $1 per child aged 6 to 12. Children under 6 can enter for free.

Pets, outside food and drink, or smoking are not permitted.

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Eating contests are sponsored by The Wing Bar and Marco’s Pizza.