The 27th annual Pepsi-Cola hot air balloon race, glow and festival held Sept. 23-24 was a success, said Brad Zobrist, event organizer.
About 2,000 people visited the New Haven City Park over the two-day event.
The balloon glow, held Friday night, featured 10 inflated hot air balloons lighted by their burners. Visitors could walk around the balloons and meet pilots.
Saturday festivities kicked off with a parade, followed by the balloon race in the afternoon. Nineteen balloon pilots from across the state took part in the “hare and hound” race.
The race began when the lead “hare” balloon took off ahead of the pack. The “hound” balloon that dropped its bean bag closest to the hare balloon’s landing site was declared the winner.
For the second year in a row, Tom Canton, House Springs, won the race. He was sponsored by Shear Connection Salon.
In second place was Joe Nusrala, Defiance, who was sponsored by Backes and Toelke Agriculture Products.
The third-place winner was Jim Wolters, Jefferson City, who was sponsored by Franklin County Construction.
There were reports of a balloon catching fire during the race, but Zobrist said that the incident was a “nonevent.”
On takeoff, a balloon panel got hot and melted, but there was no cause for concern and the balloon was “completely airworthy,” he said.
Zobrist thanked all the balloon pilots and volunteers, as well as the New Haven Parks Department for groundswork and cleanup help.
The Balloon Race was co-sponsored by Backes & Toelke Agriculture Products, Bank of Franklin County, Citizens Bank, Edward Jones of New Haven–Jim Stiles, Hair, Kuenzel Valley Winery, Peoples Savings Bank, Pinckney Bend Distillery, Quick’s Save-A-Lot, Robller Vineyard Winery, Larry Hanks Painting and Drywall, and Shear Connection Salon & Spa.