PLAINVILLE — The Fire Company’s 35th annual hot air balloon festival is right around the corner. The three-day event starts this Friday evening and goes through Sunday morning at Norton Park, Route 177. We caught up with festival chairman Jim Lenois Sr. during setup Monday to find out what you need to know if you go. 1.Schedule
The festival opens around 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, with a craft and vendor show until 10 p.m. The annual balloon glow will happen around 7:30 p.m., during which all the balloons tether a few hundred feet in the air and light up as the sun goes down.
“Friday night, to be honest with you, is just amazing because the people just come out from everywhere,” Lenois said. “It’s a great opportunity for pictures.”
Fireworks are scheduled for Friday night, likely around 9 p.m., and the annual car show will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be live entertainment throughout the weekend.
Balloon launches are Saturday and Sunday mornings, around 6 a.m. and again Saturday night around 6 p.m.
The festival generally ends after the Sunday morning balloon launch. 2. Vendors & Admission
There is no entrance fee to attend the festival.
“Families can come down and have a good time and not have to spend a lot of money,” Lenois said.
There will be food for purchase, as well as items from the local craft vendors. 3.Parking
Parking is available throughout the weekend at Robertsen Airport on Johnson Avenue and the Plainville High School parking lots on Robert Holcomb Way. Shuttle buses will start at 4 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Handicap and motorcycle parking will be allowed in the park. This year, due to a change in management at the business, there will not be parking offered at G.E. on Woodford Avenue.
General parking will be available in the park for the 6 a.m. balloon launches Saturday and Sunday mornings, but organizers ask people to remove vehicles from the site by 9 a.m. 4.Balloon rides
The Fire Company does not organize balloon rides themselves, but people wishing to ride can sign up through individual balloonists.
A list of balloonists can be found online on the Plainville Fire Company website or by visiting the Connecticut Lighter than Air Society website.
Flights will be Saturday and Sunday mornings around 6 a.m. and Saturday evening around 6 p.m.
Lenois said the atmosphere of the festival is very laid back and people are welcome to talk with balloonists and ask questions as they set up.
“It's kind of neat because you can get really up close and personal with them,” he said, noting that the balloonists are often happy to talk. 5.Proceeds go back to the community
The event is also a major fundraiser for the fire company, which raises around $20,000 on average at its food booth, according to Fire Capt. David Massey.
“We use some of the money to run our company, but we also donate a good portion of it,” Lenois said. “Most of the funds we raise here go back into the community.”
The company donates about $7,000 in scholarships every year and helps fund sports leagues in town.