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Woodstock Magazine

The Queeche Balloon Fest: A Look Back at The 2014 Festival

Aug 05, 2014 06:28PM ● Published by Erin Frisch

To most, this past Father’s day weekend offered ideal weather. At first glance it would appear to have been the perfect setting for the 35th Annual Quechee Hot Air Balloon Craft and Music Festival. Multicolored artisan frocks blew gently in the wind and the sun shone down on the food stations which offered fare from fried dough to dumplings. However, there was one thing missing from this balloon fest, the balloons. As one vendor from the Skinny Pancake mused, “Enjoying the balloonless, balloon festival?” The windy conditions, which made it impossible for the balloons to take off, seemed to be the recurring theme discussed amongst the crowd.

The festival which always falls on Father’s day attracted families from near and far. Russell Shoengather III came from Rutland with his son Russell IV and daughter Brooke.  He waited until they arrived at the festival to tell Brooke he had planned a surprise balloon ride for her. “We were supposed to go up last night and then again this morning but we are still hoping we might get up tonight.” He wanted to wait until they got to the fair so she wouldn’t have time to be nervous but with the bad ballooning conditions causing delays she’s had a little too much time to think about it now and was getting nervous.

Chris Goodwin and his daughter Sydney from West Lebanon who had a booth at the Balloon Fest since Friday past the time playing double frisbee.  Chris said, “Friday wasn’t a wash out but it was sparse.” He added that “Saturday felt like they had a good gate but anytime the balloons don’t go up the crowd is smaller.”

However, despite the balloonless skies there was still much to enjoy at the festival.

One highlight was the skydiving team from Jumptown based in Orange, Massachusetts. The team made a beautiful jump sending four skydivers out into the air.  Richard Adams, the third to jump, said although the balloons can’t go up in these conditions, for them it’s not bad, “We don’t mind jumping with the wind at 25 (mph), as long as it’s not gusty.”  He said it was a beautiful day for a jump and he had “The best view around with the typical Vermont scenery of hills and fields.”

The festival also offered a lively and interactive juggling show from Waldo and Woodhead, which kept the audience of children and adults on their toes. The Upper Valley Haven also offered a Kid’s zone, reserved especially for youngsters, which included a blow-up bouncy house, obstacle courses, and a life-size Thomas the Tank Engine.

Despite the less than ideal conditions, the festival proved to provide plenty of family fun on this special weekend and the balloons finally took off on Sunday night, ending the festival on a high note.

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