Stark County residents can allow a hot-air balloon to land on their property

CANTON, OH (July 17, 2009) - The 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Balloon Classic Invitational/Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks will be held Friday, JulyBalloon Classic Inv 431 through Sunday, Aug. 2, at Kent State University Stark and Stark State College of Technology. Approximate times for scheduled flights, weather permitting, will be Friday at 5:30 p.m., Saturday at 6:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and Sunday at 6:30 a.m. A record number 77 sport, commercial and special shape hot air balloons will be featured, including "Off the Wall" Humpty Dumpty, Piggles, and Touchdown.

A special treat will be participation by the Wizard of Oz balloon, coming to the Enshrinement Festival as the fifth stop on a tour that will travel across the United States from Los Angeles to New York, visiting cities and hot air balloon festivals to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz. The Emerald City green balloon is encircled with the Yellow Brick Road, stands over 75-feet tall, is 55-feet in diameter, and holds 90,000 cubic feet of air. The Oz balloon also carries the 70th anniversary logo that includes Dorothy's ruby red slippers (eight and a half feet long!), and the other side of the balloon has a larger-than-life 30-foot tall image of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion.

The Dawn Patrol will take place on Friday, July 31, at 5 a.m. If you are an early bird, you won't want to miss this photo opportunity! Pilots will take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. These balloons create a very strange appearance in the early-morning sky, especially to those on the ground never having experienced this show in the past.

Additional activities over the ballooning weekend include:

  • • Balloon pilots from across the country will compete in a team format for a prize package valued at $19,000, while others will fly "fiesta" in a non-competitive format.
  • • All will participate in a $3,000 Pole Grab where the pilots will maneuver their balloons over a pole erected on the launch field and attempt to grab the cash from the top of the pole.
  • • 18 pilots will participate in the "Night Glow" on Friday at 9:45 p.m. when they illuminate their balloon envelopes while tethered at the launch field.
  • • The Balloon Education Area, sponsored by Uncrustables, where adults and children can enter a fully inflated balloon envelope and learn about the envelope, balloon basket and burners, will be open each day.

Residents of Stark County can also participate in the ballooning excitement by allowing a balloon to land on their property. To signal pilots for landing, place a white sheet in a 200 x 200 foot grassy area. The landing area must be clear of trees and power lines as well as allow enough space for the balloon to land. The pilots offer landowners the chance to win a $100 U.S. Savings Bond in appreciation of land use.

Family and friends can also enjoy great food and entertainment at the Jackson-Belden Food Fest on Friday and Saturday evenings. There will be a variety of food vendors, climbing wall, playground of inflatables, and concerts including Stickers at 6 p.m. and Ryan Humbert Band at 9 p.m. on Friday. Saturday night's slate starts with Mary McCoy at 5 p.m., followed by U2 Tribute Band at 6:30 p.m., and Jimmy and the Soul Blazer at 9 p.m. Food Fest hours are Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11:30 p.m., with a spectacular fireworks display on Saturday at 10 p.m.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Balloon Classic Invitational/Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks event is presented through a cooperative effort between the Canton Regional and Jackson-Belden Chambers of Commerce. For more information, call Chris Gumpp at (330) 458-2054, or visit the Enshrinement Festival web site at .