Astronaut, Uncle Sam join mainstay balloons at AOBF

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While this year’s All-Ohio Balloon Fest, Aug. 9 through 11, will include music from ZZ Top and a variety of food vendors, it’s still all about the balloons.
New additions include the Cosmo balloon from Texas, which is a giant astronaut balloon; the Chicka Boom balloon from South Dakota, which is a woman with fruit on her head; and an Uncle Sam balloon also from South Dakota.
These three, coupled with mainstays Yoda and Darth Vader from Belgium, present a globetrotting group for this year’s Balloon Fest.
“I think that’s kind of cool in the fact that these people are travelling from pretty far away to come to Marysville,” said Kevin Behrens, publisher for the Journal-Tribune.
The fact that so many balloons come from so many places is what Behrens said makes the All-Ohio Balloon Fest special.
“These people are coming from that far away,” he said.
Event Organizer Marie Woodford said she finds it interesting that the event is attracting more corporate balloons and sponsors. US. Bank, Heartland Bank and ReMax will all have balloons representing them at the event.
Pepsi will also be the All-Ohio Balloon Fest’s beverage sponsor this year.
For this year, though, it doesn’t stop at new balloons. The Kahiki, an older, well-known restaurant turned frozen food company, is coming to the All-Ohio Balloon Fest.
“They are having a food booth this year,” Woodford said.
Behrens said this surge in corporate interest shows that the event has become a desirable place to advertise your brand.
“I think the event marketing side of peoples’ businesses are coming around to where they acknowledge the balloon festival (as important),” Behrens said.
The event’s relationship with Pepsi doesn’t only include a sponsorship. Behrens said
“They’re going to come in to help kind of look over the event this year and make suggestions about how things can be better,” he said.
Woodford said Pepsi has, “a ton of experience with this.”
“You name it, they’ve worked with it,” she said.
The Kahiki’s decision to test out a booth is another example, according to Behrens.
“They’re using this as a test marketing vehicle to see what kind of reaction they get,” he said.
Woodford singled out Heartland Bank as a particularly interesting sign that companies see the event as an opportunity.
“They don’t even have a bank in our community, it’s in Dublin,” she said.
According to Behrens, more corporate dollars coming in will allow the festival to grow as well.
“You can expand the Kid City, you can expand the planes, you can expand everything,” he said. “It builds the platform.”
That platform isn’t only for balloons. In addition to the Kahiki, the Blue Chew and Sworden’s Barbecue are newcomers to the event.
The Blue Chew is a gourmet food truck with a wide-ranging menu with no set theme or style, while Sworden’s Barbecue “unique things like smoked mac and cheese,” according to Woodford.
The Urbana Aviation Museum will return to offer flights to visitors in its restored B-25 Mitchell bomber. This year will be the first that anyone is free to purchase a ride for $425.
Behrens said there are a few rides left for each day of the festival. All money made from the event goes to the Urbana Aviation Museum.
Helicopter and biplane rides will return too.
As announced before, Thursday, Aug. 9, will see ZZ Top rocking the stage at 8 p.m. with Remedy playing at 6:30 p.m. and the Dan Orr Project playing at 5 p.m.
Friday night, country music act LOCASH will play at 8:30 p.m. Jacked Up and Michael Christopher will open at 5 p.m.
Saturday will have BluKuda opening at 5 p.m. and Bon Journey closing out the show at 8 p.m.
The festival will come to a close Saturday night with an “Albuquerque Glow,” which will allow spectators to go out among the balloons as the glow on the ground.



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