Wild West Balloon Fest returns this weekend | People

The Wild West Balloon Fest 2022 returns after a brief hiatus.

“Between Covid and the weary, exhausted members…the festival hasn’t happened for the past three years,” said Marci DeWitt Bernard, organizer of this year’s hot air balloon festival.

This year’s event is scheduled for this weekend at Mentock Park. Three hot air balloons will participate.

The festivities begin at 6am on Friday with a launch in tribute to Jack Way, who was one of the original members of the committee that organized the hot air balloon festival and who died last year.

“We’re going to have a guest speaker and we’ll pay tribute to Jack Way, who was a massive hot air balloon in Cody,” Bernard said. “The balloons are going to come out just to honor Jack.”

The Friday festivities will resume at 5:30 p.m. with evening entertainment. Participants will be able to walk around, watch the hot air balloons and take pictures with them. There will also be various food trucks and vendors.

At 8 p.m., the Nightglow event begins. There will be music, and after the singing of the national anthem, the hot air balloons will be lit up, weather permitting.

“It’s just a fun thing to see the balloons lit up close in the dark,” Bernard said.

On Saturday at 6:20 a.m. there will be a hot air balloon launch with captive flights from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

On Sunday there will be another balloon launch at 6:20 a.m.

Everything will be based on donations this year. The rides are free but Bernard encourages people to donate if they take the hot air balloon rides.

“The money we collect will be used to be able to continue [the festival] and do it again next year,” she said.

Bernard’s goal is to raise as much as possible, but she said this year they are heavily dependent on sponsors.

All three hot air balloons were sponsored by local businesses, with major sponsors being Pawnee Irrigation, Tanager Beverages and Big Horn Radio Network.

“A lot of people are happy it’s coming back,” Bernard said. “It brings in people from the community, [and] it gives families something free and fun to do.

Bernard hopes this is just the beginning of the revival of the hot air balloon festival.

“Even though it will be small this year, we hope to build it bigger and better,” she said. “And we just hope everyone comes and enjoys it.”