United Way of Southern Kentucky is pleased to announce that the 26th annual U.S. Bank Balloon Classic will take place September 9-11, 2016, at the Bowling Green / Warren County Regional Airport. The festival is designed for the enjoyment and affordability of the entire family, and this year will feature a nostalgic throwback salute to years gone by in honor of United Way of Southern Kentucky’s 60th Anniversary. Title Sponsor U.S. Bank has teamed up with Presenting Sponsor Houchens Industries and Supporting Sponsors J B Distributors, Fruit of the Loom, Miller’s Bottled Gas, Hampton Inn, Coke, WBKO, WGGC 95.1, D&M Electric, FASTSIGNS, Whayne Supply, Graves Gilbert Clinic, the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Bowling Green/ Warren County Regional Airport to make this event possible. United Way of Southern Kentucky is proud to host this community event during its 60th Anniversary year, and net proceeds from the festival will be benefit United Way’s Southern Kentucky 2-1-1 Contact Center.
Since 1956, United Way of Southern Kentucky has been the leader in bringing together the resources – whether it be money, time via volunteerism, talent, or collaborations – to build a stronger, more caring community. Now it is time that we look forward to the next 60 years to ensure that our community can continue to thrive as it has over the last 60. In order to do so, we hope that you will support the 2016 U.S. Bank Balloon Classic to help pave the way for a community where individuals are educated, healthy, and financially stable through the help of services such as those provided by the Southern Kentucky 2-1-1 Contact Center.
2-1-1 is an easy to remember, three-digit telephone number assigned by the Federal Communications Commission for the purpose of providing quick and easy access to information about health and human services. Professional Information and Referral Specialists work with callers to assess their needs, determine their options and provide appropriate service information, give support, intervene in crisis situations and advocate for the caller as needed. Instead of multiple calls leading to dead ends, with one call to 2-1-1, people can reach a trained specialist who assesses a caller’s full scope of needs and matches them to the right services with everything from food, housing, utilities, transportation, child care, and much more.
This year’s U.S. Bank Balloon Classic promises excitement and enjoyment for all ages! Attractions will include an inflatable fair friendly for children of all ages, BBQ to tempt the taste buds along with other food and drink, and, of course, HOT AIR BALLOONS! You don’t want to miss the action!
This nostalgic throwback to the roots of the Balloon Classic will feature the staple of the event since its inception in 1990 – Hot Air Balloons! Hot air balloonists from all over the country will converge on Bowling Green to compete for more than $10,000 in prize money. Hot air balloon competitive events will be held throughout the weekend, testing the skill set of some of the sport’s best pilots. Competitive events kick off with an early Saturday morning fly-in, crowd favorite Hare and Hound competitive lift off will be Saturday afternoon, and the final fly-in event will be held early Sunday morning with the announcement of the Grand Prize Winner shortly thereafter. The skies of Bowling Green will be full of color as dozens of hot air balloons fill the air! Hot Air Balloon Rides (un-tethered) will be available again this year for a fee, weather and wind permitting. You can book your ride now by signing up at the Balloon Classic official website (www.balloonclassicbg.com).
While the event will not tout a “big stage” at the airport this year for live entertainment, music will be provided on site courtesy of WGGC 95.1. Additionally, WGGC 95.1 in partnership with U. S. Bank and Houchens Industries is hosting the “Balloon Classic Kickoff and 95 Live Summer Finale” concert outside 6-4-3 Sports Bar in downtown Bowling Green next to Bowling Green Ballpark on Thursday night, September 8. The concert will be FREE and will feature Mercury Nashville recording artist Canaan Smith. His debut album, Bronco, includes the RIAA Platinum-Certified No. 1 hit “Love You Like That.” Bronco debuted in the Top 5 on Billboard’s Country Albums Chart and features 10 additional tracks including Canaan’s current upbeat, feel-good single “Hole In A Bottle.”
The festival begins at the airport when gates open at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, September 9 for the “Fruit of the Loom Family Night.” The WBKO Kids’ Zone and Inflatable Fair will be up and running. Hot air balloons will be on display Friday evening at dusk for the ever popular Balloon Glow. Prior to the Balloon Glow, the balloon field will offer Tether rides starting at 5 p.m. — weather and wind permitting, subject to authorization by on site FAA representatives, and subject to availability due to FAA imposed time line / sunset restrictions.
Gates open shortly after daylight on Saturday morning for the first competitive fly-in and then again on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. The feature of the evening will be the very popular Hare and Hound lift-off. In a moment of awe, the Hare will lift off and then be chased out of the balloon field by all other hot air balloons. It will be a beautiful sight as the skies of Bowling Green fill with color! Through special arrangement, there will be dedicated hot air balloons remaining behind to provide tether rides starting at 5 p.m. – weather and wind permitting, subject to authorization by on site FAA representatives, and subject to availability due to FAA imposed time line / sunset restrictions. The WBKO Kids’ Zone and Inflatable Fair will be up and running once again. Come out and enjoy the food, fun, and fellowship that makes Southern Kentucky truly special!
Thanks to our generous sponsors, the 2016 U.S. Bank Balloon Classic will be FREE to the public – NO Admission Fee and NO Parking Fee. Bring the entire family and enjoy the spectacular view provided by the professional hot air balloon pilots that converge on Bowling Green for the week! Plenty of green space will be provided so bring your lawn chairs and blankets – and enjoy the show!
While NO Parking Fee and NO Admission fee will be the case the entire weekend, a $10 ticket purchase will be required for anyone wishing to take advantage of the hot air balloon tether rides and a $10 arm band purchase will be required for the inflatable fair. Food and drink will be available for purchase from our vendors.
In making the announcement, Debbie Hills, United Way of Southern Kentucky President and CEO, noted, “Year after year, one of the top outdoor festivals in Kentucky is the Balloon Classic. People travel from all across Kentucky, Tennessee and beyond to see this hot air balloon spectacular! Partners like U.S. Bank and Houchens Industries make this happen for the Bowling Green region. Their financial support of this event will help ensure that every net dollar raised by the festival is re-invested back into the community through the good work of United Way. Also, partnerships with those like Rob Barnett and his staff and board at the Bowling Green/Warren County Regional Airport are essential to having a place in Bowling Green adequate to produce this event. This year we are especially pleased that proceeds from this great community event, made possible by so many supporters, will benefit United Way’s Southern Kentucky 2 -1-1 Contact Center. There’s no question that Bowling Green will once again come together as a community to benefit this great cause and welcome the sights, sounds, and family fun that can only be the Balloon Classic!”
In commenting on U.S. Bank’s involvement, Craig Browning, U.S. Bank Regional President and Festival Coordinator, noted, “We are very pleased to again be the Title Sponsor of Bowling Green’s premiere outdoor festival. We’re extremely excited about the nostalgic throwback theme of this year’s Balloon Classic. Patrons will quickly realize this event has significant family entertainment value — all right here in Southern Kentucky! We strive to make the event family affordable while at the same time raising funds for those in need within our community. United Way of Southern Kentucky fulfills a vital role in our region and we’re pleased that they have once again chosen to host this festival. Finally, we couldn’t be more appreciative of not only our individual volunteers but also to all of our sponsors for their support. It’s a special thing to see this many members of our corporate community come together for a common cause.”
United Way of Southern Kentucky would like to recognize the hundreds of volunteers and the tremendous support of sponsors that help to make this event possible. The event is produced with promotional support from the Bowling Green Area Convention Visitors Bureau – Vicki Fitch, Executive Director. Special thanks to Dan McIvor, Brandon McIvor, and the entire team at D&M for all the work they do! Finally, United Way of Southern Kentucky wishes to thank and recognize Rob Barnett and the BG/Warren County Regional Airport staff and Board of Directors for their continuing support. It is the combined efforts of all of these individuals that will result in a wonderful benefit back to the community through United Way. Thousands of lives will be changed as the result of the generosity of these volunteers, sponsors and those of who come out and support this wonderful community event.
Anyone interested in volunteering or simply seeking more information about the event may call the U.S. Bank Balloon Classic Hotline at 270.745.7532. Volunteers may leave a message and expect a return call from one of the event coordinators. For additional information you may visit online at www.balloonclassicbg.com or www.facebook.com/BalloonClassicBG. Coordinators will continue to update the website and our Facebook page as additional information becomes available.
For more information on how you can make the choice to LIVE UNITED through giving, advocating and volunteering, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at www.liveunitedtoday.com.
United Way of Southern Kentucky (UWSK) is a local, independent, non-profit organization that works to identify and address the issues that matter most, change conditions and improve lives. The mission of United Way of Southern Kentucky is to be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community. United Way is focused on the building blocks for good quality of life – Education, Income, Health and Safety Net. Therefore, the vision of United Way is a Southern Kentucky where all residents are educated, healthy, and financially stable. Incorporated as a charitable non-profit entity in 1956, UWSK has long served a major role in the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work.