Balloon Classic, Tumbleweed Fest on tap this weekend




This weekend features two popular events where people can get a glimpse of the landscape from the air or take in bluegrass, jazz and country all in one place.

The Hot Air Balloon Classic, which lasts from Friday through Sunday, will be held at the Finney County Fairgrounds. The Tumbleweed Festival will be Saturday and Sunday across the street from the fairgrounds on the west lawn of Lee Richardson Zoo.

The Finney County Convention and Tourism Bureau is sponsoring the sixth year of the Hot Air Balloon Classic. The event starts Friday between 6:30 and 7 p.m. at the Finney County Fairgrounds with a fun flight for pilots who want to fly that evening.

On Saturday there's an opening ceremony at 6:45 a.m., and at 7 a.m., 13 balloons will launch from the south side of the Exhibition Building parking lot.

At 6:30 p.m., there's a Tubs of Fun ride and a car and motorcycle ride for $2 each. At 8:30 p.m., there's a balloon glow at the launch site, where the balloons will fill but not ascend, and a free watermelon feed for the public.

On Sunday, there's a balloon launch at 7 a.m.

Lynn Schoonover, director of the Finney County Convention and Tourism Bureau, said the balloons can only launch if the wind is below 9 mph. Schoonover said the weekend forecast is calling for winds of 2 to 8 mph.

"Hopefully we'll be able to launch several times this weekend," Schoonover said.

The event is free to those want to watch. If a member of the public wants to ride on a balloon, Schoonover said there will be a tent set up at the fairgrounds for those interested. A ride is $200.

The Tumbleweed Festival also is going on this weekend, with two stages of music on the west lawn of Lee Richardson Zoo, along with a stage of children's performers.

The festival lasts from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

This is the 18th year for the festival. Artists will be performing bluegrass, country and jazz, along with magicians, jugglers and entertainers for children.

There will be a craft tent set up during the festival for children.

Admission is by button and is $8 in advance or $10 at the gate. Admission for children is $1. Buttons are available at Dillon Stores, Commerce Bank on Main Street, Western State Bank, Finney County Historical Museum, Safari Shoppe, Arts Center on Main,¬ Golden Plains Credit Union and the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce. The button admission price is good for both days.

The Lee Richardson Zoo will be open to pedestrians only this weekend because of the Tumbleweed Festival. Zoo visitors will be able to view all animal exhibits with the exception of the bison and elk yard, as the road and sidewalk there will be closed to accommodate festival needs. In addition, the west green of the zoo will remain open until 8 p.m. on Saturday for festival attendees, but zoo staff will observe regular 7 p.m. closing procedures.

Pedestrians are admitted to the zoo free, but there is a separate admission fee to the festival. Entrances to the festival are located at the southwest corner of the zoo, off Main Street, and inside the northwest corner of the zoo near the camel exhibits.

Other events going on this weekend include:

  • The 14th Annual Cop Shop Classic 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament will be held on at 9 a.m. Saturday at the outdoor courts at Garden City Community College. Each team is allowed a team captain and three additional players. This year there will be two age divisions: 13 to 16 and 17 and up. The registration fee is five canned food items per player. Registration forms are available at the Garden City Police Department during normal business hours, GCCC Residential Life Office and online at All registration forms and fees must be turned in to the Garden City Police Department no later than 5 p.m. Friday. Contact Clint Brock or Jason Chase at 276-1300 for questions.

  • The Main ARTery, 103 S. Main St., Ulysses, will feature the exhibit "Rendezvous with the Arts" Friday through Oct. 30. The public is invited to an artist reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday featuring wine sampling and door prizes. On Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. there will be a reception and door prizes. New and unique art featuring various interpretations of "Black and White" will be displayed and available for purchase. "Clay Junkies," a group of area artists, will exhibit clay creations.

On the Web:

What else is going on this weekend? Add an event to the community calendar.

Watch a video from last year's Hot Air Balloon Classic.

Watch video of last year's Tumbleweed Festival performers.

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