Hot Air Balloon Classic looks to take off this weekend

9/21/2012

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Festivities in Garden City this weekend are varied, including the annual Hot Air Balloon Classic, a breast cancer motorcycle ride, a car wash fundraiser, quilters' shuffle and a barbeque competition.

The ninth annual Garden City Hot Air Balloon Classic is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Finney County Fairgrounds Exhibition Building parking lot.

The first flight of the balloons will take place at 6:15 p.m. Friday, weather permitting.

At 7 a.m. Saturday, the opening ceremony, which will include the Color Guard, national anthem and prayer, will take place at the fairgrounds, followed by a balloon launch at 7:30 a.m. The American flag will fly with the first balloon, and the remaining pilots will launch their balloons following.

At noon Saturday, the Sky's the Limit BBQ Classic will take place at the Clarion Inn from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 1911 E. Kansas Ave. The event is $5 per person and all of the proceeds go to the United Way.

"Right now, they're in range to have 20 to 25 competitive barbecue teams. There are actually two divisions. One is the professional division and one is the amateur division," Lynn Schoonover, director of the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. "It's $5 and then they can sample a variety of the barbecue meats and lunch and ice cream and stuff."

At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, there will be a balloon launch/glow at the fairgrounds, where watermelon will be served to the public. This is sponsored by The Bank of the West.

"In the evening after the late afternoon flights, (people can) relax to the glow of balloons across the beautiful southwest Kansas sunset and enjoy a watermelon feed and great music," Schoonover said.

Prior to the balloon launch/glow Saturday night, Schoonover said that a tribute to the late Gene Brown of Topeka, who flew the 'Firecat' K-State-purple balloon, will take place. They will be launching several small, purple balloons in his honor.

"Earlier this year, we lost our veteran pilot, Gene Brown. Gene was in his mid-80s and he attended all of our events. He trained a good number of the pilots that attend our event and in the state of Kansas. He was a great man and avid supporter of balloon flying," Schoonover said.

At 7 a.m. Sunday, there will be another balloon launch, weather permitting. This will be followed by an awards luncheon beginning at 10 a.m. The location for this is to be announced by the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"This year, we have the Jack-in-the-Box-shaped balloon coming, It's two or three times the size of one of the normal ballons," Schoonover said.

She said that they are expecting 12 pilots this year. Last year, the balloon festival was canceled due to excessive wind, but Schoonover said that isn't expected to be an issue this year.

"Right now, our weekend looks ideal. Our temperatures look to be between 70 and 80, and we have less than 12 mph winds scheduled for Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. So right now, the pilots and staff are watching that closely to make sure we have a successful launch weekend," she said.

Several of the pilots will be providing rides for $200.

"Potential riders need to check in with staff at the tent, pay and sign a waiver," Schoonover said.

For more information about the Hot Air Balloon Classic, call the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 276-0607 or visit www.finneycountycvb.com.

Other weekend events include:

* The Bikers 4 Boobies 'Run for the Cure,' is taking place on Saturday. Motorcycle riders can register at The Superstore, 1213 Fleming Ave., or The Crazy House, 3502 N. Campus Drive. The registration fee is a suggested donation of $35 per driver and $15 per rider, and car and truck drivers are encouraged to participate, as well. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at The Crazy House, and the bikes will leave at 9:30 a.m. The registration fee includes a free T-shirt, wristband for the after-party and hamburgers at the closing ceremonies at The Superstore.

The after-party will begin at 8 p.m. at Time Out and will feature a live auction and music from the Front Street Band and The Drillers. All of the proceeds from the event will go to St. Catherine Hospital's digital mammography program.

* The Garden City Recreation Commission's Teens and Theatre program's Costumed Car Wash will be held on Saturday at Commerce Bank, 1601 E. Kansas Ave., from 1 to 4 p.m. The teens and sponsors will be wearing costumes and will sing and dance their way through cleaning cars. The car wash is free, but donations are being accepted to help send the teens to the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, Ga. For more information about the car wash, the trip or other ways to help, call GCRC Arts and Theatre Director Brian Seagraves at 276-1200 or visit the recreation commission at 310 N. Sixth St.

* Quilters will have the opportunity to sell or exchange quilt fabric or patterns with other quilters at the Stauth Museum in Montezuma from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, at the Fat Quarter's Exchange. Refreshments will be served and quilters are invited to share quilting stories, show off their latest quilting projects and exchange ideas, fabric and patterns.

While at the museum, visitors are invited to spend time viewing the traveling exhibit from the Museum of the American Quilter's Society, "New Quilts from an Old Favorite 2011: Orange Peel."

Along with the 18 quilts from the traveling exhibit, there are 24 southwest Kansas quilts as an extra to the exhibition. The exhibition closes on Oct. 14.

For more information, call (620) 846-2527. Museum hours are from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday to Saturday, and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free, but donations are accepted to cover the costs of the exhibition.

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