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Festival of Balloons in Tigard, Oregon Soars Despite Cloudy Weather
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The Festival of Balloons in Tigard, Ore. celebrated its 35th year from June 21-23rd.  The three-day fest included a carnival provided by Portland-based Funtastic Shows, a balloon Night Glow sponsored by Walmart, live music, a Festival of Cars, and a Twilight Run at Dawn. Crafts booths and local food vendors were also part of the successful festival.

What didn’t get off the ground on the morning of opening day, was the balloon launch scheduled for the wee hours of the morning; several night glow balloon launches were cancelled as well due to cloudy weather and unfavorable wind conditions. Although the Friday morning balloon launch was a non-starter, attendees could view the balloons at the Night Glow, as well as climb aboard for tethered balloon experiences, which are free to festival-goers. Balloons made it skyward on the 22nd and 24th,  according to festival program director Kristin Romelhardt.

The balloons were only onsite in the morning and evening due to weather conditions during the day. The lower aloft time this year was entirely due to the weather and clouds preventing the early morning launch; however a number of balloons inflated but stayed grounded on display for the public to view and talk to the pilots.

Among the balloons on display this year were Yellow Bird, Puddy Cat, Mr. Owl, a yellow fish with pursed lips called Sushi the Flying Goldfish, and Rocket the Flying Squirrel; a Re-Max Realty sponsored balloon, and the green and black checkered Emerald also rose in the sky. In all, 20 balloons were a part of the festival.

On both the 22nd and 24th, however, balloons were colorfully aloft. Balloons are only air-born early in the morning – launching around 5 a.m., and for the evening night glow. Held in Tigard’s Cook Park, the balloons waft following the direction of the wind and can be seen over Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Aurora, Wilsonville, or Woodburn, Oregon.

The event raises funds for a variety of non-profit groups in Tigard, including Tigard Breakfast Rotary, Tigard Lunch Rotary, Foundation for Tigard-Tualatin School, THS Boosters, American Cancer Society - Tigard/Tualatin Area Relay for Life, THS Band and Auxiliary Parent Association, Mountain Wave Search & Rescue, Tigard’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Southside Soccer, Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Just Compassion, THS Intercambio Clubs, among others.

Tickets for the event were $5 in advance and $8 at the gate for a 3-day weekend pass, with children 6 and under free. Parking was also $8; and, judging from the full lots, attendance was strong this year despite the weather which grounded the balloons from several scheduled flights over the weekend. Attendance has yet to be fully calculated, but hovered close to festival’s annual 20,000 attendees.

Beyond the balloons, the carnival also offered plenty of fun rides, including a Ferris Wheel and twister rides that were crowd favorites. Discount day was Friday, June 21. Buying a discount pass online for $37, attendees could receive unlimited rides, two free games, and festival entry for Friday. A ticket purchased for the Friday Combo Special also served as an entry pass for the entire festival on Friday when purchased online.

40 tickets were available throughout the fair’s run for $24; 120 tickets were available for $60 at a 20% discount. Rides required 9-10 tickets per ride, according to festival officials.

Individual tickets were 50 cents each and good for games, food and rides inside the Funtastic Carnival. Carnival hours were 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

While the balloons were a main draw, the carnival was also popular, with attendance strong this year, Romelhardt relates.

Kids also enjoyed participating in the Play.Fit.Fun Kids Action Zone which was free with fair admission. The physically challenging lighthearted obstacle course was a favorite for the younger set.

Popular carnival foods included hot dogs and slushies. Elsewhere at the event, a kids’ pie-eating and adult rib-eating contest were also a part of the fun. And speaking of food, the 2019 festival saw the return of the Pancake Breakfast benefitting the Tigard High School Band Boosters. All you can eat pancakes, sausage, and TANG were served from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. near the Rogue Ales Beer Garden. The breakfast was available for $8.50 per plate.

Also popular: the Twilight Run at Dawn, on Saturday morning. Festival entry was free with the $40 race registration; a Kids Mile fun run also took place.

For those who preferred to ride rather than run, Landmark Ford Lincoln, sponsored an open cruise-in of roadsters, muscle cars, hot rods and exotics; registration was $20; viewing was free. Prizes were awarded for 30 different classes of vehicle; the event this year benefitted Meals on Wheels.

Entertainment was also free at the fest, including magic acts and live music such as an Aretha Franklin tribute, School of Rock, and regional acts such as rock bands Pressure Point and Strange Tones.

The Rogue Beer Garden featured Rogue Ales, a local brew that does not pasteurize its products. The beer garden allowed a “walk around” with brew buyers allowed to visit craft and commercial vendors as well as listen to music with their cups in hand
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