Ravenna – The 33rd Annual Balloon-A-Fair kicked off last week with the Children’s Parade on Thursday. The annual event ran through the weekend which included parades, food, live music, 10 Mile race, car and antique tractor show along with craft show and fire works.  The highlight of the weekend was when the cloudy skies parted just as 20 hot air balloons took to the heavens, fulfilling their theme “Patchwork Skies”

Saturday morning the grand parade stepped off at 9am just as the 10 mile race got under way. Floats, bands, and fire trucks paraded through town as eager children stood along the sides waiting on the candy each unit tossed out to them. Main Street was turned into a carnival as food vendors, crafters, entrepreneurs and political booths, lined the streets all vying for ones attention.  The crowds of people flooded the streets looking for their favorite carnie food while listening to a variety of music at both ends of town.

The gates at Sunbeau Valley Farms opened at 4 p m with folks abandoning downtown at record speeds to stake out a claim on the farm to watch the balloon launch. By the 5:30 launch time the farm was jam-packed with spectators  of all ages anticipating the beauty of the balloon ascension.

Twenty balloonists prepared their balloons for launch under the watchful eye of a large crowd. All were  rewarded as the balloons took to the skies one by one. The sky was turned into a patchwork canvas as the balloons started to ascend. Within an hour of the scheduled launch, 20 balloons had taken to the skies to the delight of the crowd.  Following the launch, folks mellowed out  to some great music and the evening was capped off with fireworks.

Sunday the Sunbeau Valley opened its gates at 9 am with a car and antique tractor show, along with a craft displays.  The day proved conducive to the second balloon launch of the weekend while folks kicked back and listened to the sounds of Melanie May, anticipating the ascension of the balloons.  At 5:30 the second balloon launch of the weekend was a smashing success, as once again the balloons turned the partly cloudy skies into a colorful canvas of patchwork, resembling one of grandma’s quilts. This launch was the highlight of the event as the crowd cheered as each balloon was sent aloft, capping off the weekends events.
The Balloon-A-Fair was originally conceived 34-plus years ago by a group of folks who wanted to see Ravenna celebrate one of the city’s earliest industries – toy balloons manufactured by the Oak Rubber Company,  located in the city. The annual celebration is traditionally held on the third week of September, highlighted by  balloon launches and fireworks if  the weather permits.