10th annual Winnemucca Balloon Festival rises to the occasion

10th annual Winnemucca Balloon Festival rises to the occasion

10th annual Winnemucca Balloon Festival rises to the occasion

It’s time to mark those calendars! The Winnemucca Balloon Festival is celebrating its 10th year of awe-inspiring wonders in the skies this weekend. 

Winnemucca Balloon Festival (WBF) Event Coordinator Jeremy Crosby, announced that this year’s event is “not the same old balloon festival.” This year’s event, which will take place May 13-15, will include more pilots and balloons than ever before, according to Crosby. The event is free to the public, but non-perishable food donations are collected for the Winnemucca Food Bank and are greatly appreciated. 

The kick-off event on May 13, the Humboldt Ford Glow Show, will begin at 6 p.m. at the Ralph Whitworth Recreation Complex — 1973 Whitworth Way — and feature 10 lit hot air balloons floating in the night sky. The early-riser events will take place on May 14 and 15 at 5:45 a.m., with 19 hot air balloons taking off from the Winnemucca Sports Complex—1600 Barker Way. This year’s festival  will be at split-locations due to the weather. Crosy explained that WBF had trouble with the wind at the Ralph Whitworth Recreation Complex last year, and safety is a top priority for the WBF and the pilots. 

“We’re just hoping that the winds work out because this is such a weather-dependent event,” said Crosby. He explained that if the wind is more than 8 to 10 miles per hour it is unsafe for the pilots, as the winds are more intense the higher up the balloons fly. 

Spectators are invited to show up early to be a part of the action and help the pilots prepare for takeoff. According to Crosby, it takes about four to five people per balloon to get the balloons ready for takeoff, and 45 volunteers total. 

This creates an opportunity for patrons to meet pilots and get up close and personal with the giant balloons. Crosby also said that the WBF is looking to add more food vendors to its roster, as they have two committed right now and average about 1,000 spectators at the festival. 

Crosby encourages people to come out and get involved as he got involved in flying in balloons when he was just 13 years old, which is how he has managed to fly in a hot air balloon 30 times throughout the years. 

“It never gets old seeing the balloons in the sky,” said Crosby. 

The festival also poses an opportunity to give back to the community through donations to the Winnemucca Food Bank. Crosby reported that the donations from last year’s festival filled up an entire truck. 

“We just know that the Food Bank always needs donations and we figure this is our way of giving back to the community,” Crosby said.

The sponsors and supporters of the event are integral to the success of the festival, as they help WBF create incentives that attract pilots and without some, it would be impossible for the balloons to take flight. Crosby explained that each balloon holds multiple 19-gallon propane tanks, which keep them flying for an hour to an hour and half each. Last year, according to Crosby, Western States Propane provided 444 gallons of propane to the WBF for free, and will be providing the propane this year as well. 

For more information on how to become a vendor or for more general information, reach out to Jeremy Crosby by calling him at 775-621-6202 or by email at winnemuccaballoons@gmail.com.