PLAINVILLE - The 33rd annual Plainville Balloon Festival will be floating in Aug. 25-27 at Norton Park, bringing with it more than 100 crafters and vendors, live music, fireworks and a one-of-a-kind balloon show.
Admission to the festival, sponsored by Gnazzo’s Supermarket and Tower Energy, is free.
According to festival coordinator Jim Lenois of the Plainville Fire Company, it’s one of the last hot air balloon shows of its kind in the area. It is also the fire company’s largest fundraiser.
“It is a wonderful, family-friendly event,” said Lenois. “There is always great food and always something for mom, dad and the kids to enjoy. The spectacle is amazing. Unlike other balloon festivals, you can get close and watch as balloons fill up and take off. Last year we had 16 or 17 balloonists. The 25-minute fireworks show is spectacular and lights up the whole sky.”
Last year’s festival was a great success, Lenois said, thanks to 100 people stepping up to volunteer and also to modifications in parking.
Rather than people parking at the festival and causing heavy traffic, buses will be picking up festival-goers at Plainville High School, at 47 Robert Holcomb Way, GE Industrial Solutions at 41 Woodford Ave., Robertson Airport at 62 Johnson Ave. and Carling Technologies at 60 Johnson Ave. Parking at Norton Park will be reserved for the handicapped, motorcyclists and event staff.
“We’ve had tremendous positive feedback,” said Lenois. “The response on social media was overwhelming; I can’t think of a single negative post. The Monday after the event, I had someone drive over to the station and ask what we were doing about parking. I informed him that the festival had already happened, and he said that we ‘must have fixed it’ because he didn’t even notice an issue.”
Lenois said last year’s event attracted 125 vendors. He will be taking vendor sign-ups until the day before the festival begins. The craft show is being moved from under the trees to along the park’s gravel roads, in order to avoid tripping hazards. Temporary fencing is also being put into place to give vendors more space.
“We see everything from homemade jellies to jewelry and crafts,” he said.
Entertainment will include Nashville Drive on Friday night. On Saturday, bands will include Fuzzy Logic, Pacing Pluto and The Curl Daddies.
Hypnotist Bruce James will perform from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“There will also be numerous things for children to do,” said Lenois. “On Saturday, McDonald’s will have an activity center and Ronald McDonald will be walking around.”
On Aug. 25, buses will begin running from parking lots at 4 p.m., and the festival officially opens at 5 p.m. Musical entertainment will run from 5 to 9:30 p.m. A craft and vendor show and food concessions will be held from 5 to 10 p.m., and the balloon glow, in which tethered balloons are illuminated, will be held at 7:30. The fireworks will begin at 9:30.
On Aug. 26, parking will be allowed at the park until 8 a.m. The food booth opens at 5:30 a.m., and a balloon launch will be held at 6 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., buses will begin running from the parking lots. The outdoor arts and crafts show will be from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and an antique car show will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Musical entertainment will be from noon to 9 p.m., and another balloon launch will be held at 6 p.m.
On the final day of the festival, parking will be allowed at the park. The food booth will be open from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m., and the balloon launch will take place at 6 a.m. The festival will end at 9 a.m.
For more information, or to apply as a vendor, visit plainvillefireco.com.
To arrange for balloon rides, reach out to balloonists at lighterthanair.org.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.