The hot air balloon festival takes off in Dansville | Lifestyles

DANSVILLE — The 40th annual New York State Balloon Festival got off to a good start with successful launches Friday night and this morning from Dansville Municipal Airport, 176 Franklin St.

Hot air balloon launches, weather permitting, are also scheduled for 6 tonight, with a balloon glow after the launch.

Additional launches are scheduled for 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, with a glow after the evening launch, and 6 a.m. Monday. Monday’s launch will mark the official end of the festival.

Launch times are estimates, organizers note, and based on weather. A launch may be postponed or canceled due to adverse weather conditions in the region such as rain, fog or high winds at different altitudes.

The best time for hot air balloons to fly is just after sunrise and just before sunset. This is when the winds tend to be the calmest.

Desirable wind speeds are less than 8 mph, but balloonists should also be concerned with wind speeds in the upper levels of the atmosphere, which can be two or three times faster than surface winds. The pilots, balloon meister and other officials meet within half an hour before each scheduled launch to discuss conditions such as wind speed – both at ground level and aloft – visibility and conditions in nearby locations such as storms to determine if it is safe to proceed with a launch.

This year’s festival will offer a different take on the annual ‘glow’, an after-sunset event in which balloons are inflated but remain attached to the ground. The flame inside illuminates the balloon, creating a stunning spectacle. Past festivals would host a glow the day before the festival, but this year the glow will feature multiple balloons at the airport after each night’s launch.

Also this year, one of the shaped balloons featured is shaped like a birthday cake to commemorate the anniversary of the festival.

“We have made arrangements to help our festival-goers stay as safe as possible. We encourage people to maintain social distancing from those who are not members of the same party/household/family,” organizers said on the website.

With the large open space of the festival grounds, individuals and groups have plenty of space to stay in an area that suits them. Organizers are also encouraging people to bring lawn chairs and blankets. The festival will have disinfection stations.

All activities will follow state and government guidelines associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said.

In addition to the balloons, there are arts and crafts vendors, children’s rides and games, food and music each afternoon before the evening launches. A car show returns for a second year on September 5 and will also include an exchange meeting with sellers of car parts and tools.

The car show, which will see an increase in classes and trophies, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Classes include car, truck, motorcycle, off-road/4×4, and special interests, such as dune buggies and kit cards. Classes will also include years up to 1940, 1941 to 1970, 1971 to 2000, and 2001 to present. Trophies will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners of each class and each year. Additional trophies will be awarded for the greatest distance traveled, the oldest vehicle and the best in the show. Prizes will be announced at 3 p.m.

Auto show registration is $15 and includes two tickets to the Dansville Balloon Festival. Registration information is available on the festival website,

Admission to the festival, which also includes admission to the Sunday car show, is $5 for adults and free for children under 12.

For more information on this year’s New York State Festival of Balloons, visit

Volunteer staff organize the annual event, which since 1990 has donated over $200,000 to area community service organizations and programs.

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