Celebrating 10 Years of the Balloon Festival at the Warren County Farmers’ Fair
The Ultimate Twofer – Two events for the price of one.
The Warren County Farmers’ Fair celebrates its 73rd year in 2010. The fair is one of the remaining agricultural fairs in New Jersey, but has a few interesting twists. Ten years ago, in 2001, the directors added a hot air balloon festival. Since there are 5 balloon pilots that live within 5 minutes of the fairgrounds, the directors realized what a potential draw the excitement of hot air balloons launch at the fair would be for the crowd. What started out with about 15 balloons now has drawn commitments from 40 balloons (and counting) in 2010.
Other additions to the fair over the years have been the popular power events. Just about every night in the Main Arena you can find a vehicle of some sort revving up and getting muddy, crunched or maxed out. The Warren County Farmers’ Fair also remains economical, which is ultra important for families these days. Some freebies for fairgoers include Lawnmower Races in the Main Arena on Sunday afternoon and a Kids’ Corral – where small children will be entertained for hours – for free. In addition, parking remains free and children 12 and younger on weekdays, before 4:00 pm are admitted free. Other additions through the years have been the Traditional Arts Expo, in it’s 13th year, and Ryan Pelton, Elvis Impersonator, who has become a regular attraction returning for the third year. With tickets at $15 for chairs and $10 for grandstand seating, the show is a great value. Ryan performs for several hours and does 4 costume changes during the show.
In addition the fair has expanded the number of days over the years and now runs for an entire week. Each year the fair always starts on the Sunday prior to, or of August 1. Along with that, the balloon shows have steadily expanded from 4 days to the entire week. Balloon pilots do not run ride businesses as their main source of income. Most have day jobs and will tell you they are addicted to flying and passengers just help pay for their habit. So the launches traditionally were Wednesday through Saturday. When the fair added Sunday at the beginning of the week, it made sense to launch on Sunday too. Last year the organizers officially added Monday and Tuesday. Co-organizer Giulia Iannitelli said, “In 2008 when 15 pilots just showed up to fly on Monday and Tuesday of the fair, we knew we could make it a weeklong festival without burning them out. After discussing with sponsor AmeriGas to see if they would supply propane for the additional nights, we made it official.”
This year the time for tethered rides has been expanded. We also have a monstrous surprise for the little ones – a special shape, giant green balloon that looks like a monster! Weather permitting tethered rides will be available from 4 pm to 8 pm. There will also be a Walk-A-Bout balloon at 4 pm each day.
One of the most unique and special events of the week for co-organizer Iannitelli is the Bicycle Balloon Race. In this race the pilot donates a balloon ride to a biker. The biker rides in the balloon and the bicycle is strapped to the outside of the basket. The team takes off with map in hand of the boundary line they must cross over before the pilot can set down and let the biker out. The biker then races back to the fairgrounds. The team that launches and then returns to the fairgrounds in the shortest amount of time wins. This race is so much fun for everyone. But what makes it very special is that the registration fee from the bikers gets donated in its entirety to a local charity, the ADM Foundation. Last year a donation in the amount of $1,900 was made.
If you have not visited the Warren County Farmers’ Fair in a few years we would like to invite you back! This agricultural fair has grown considerably. Proof that growing things is what farmers do best. And as cliche as it sounds, there is something for everyone at the Warren County Farmers’ Fair and Hot Air Balloon Festival.
- Contact Information
- Giulia Iannitelli
- Marketing Director
- Balloonatics and Aeronuts
- Contact via E-mail
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