Duluth's Balloon Festival Wraps Up Without Launch

Posted at: 09/22/2013 7:51 PM
Updated at: 09/22/2013 10:40 PM
By: Laurie Stribling

The Duluth Hot Air Balloon Festival wrapped up Sunday before a balloon could sail freely in the sky. Mother Nature was to blame, but it turns out it's expected at festivals like this.

"There's only a 20 to 25 percent chance at any balloon festival that the balloons actually launch to begin with," Organizer Ryan Kern said.

The balloons did inflate Saturday and gave about 750 tethered rides, but Kern isn't ignoring the obvious letdown.

"Would we have wanted to see those balloons launch? Absolutely, yes, but we hit bench marks," Kern said.

Duluth's weather may not be the best setting for a hot air balloon festival, but Kern said it's an event perfect for the tourist-friendly town.

Some festival goers thought a different location might be better.

"I think the weather conditions around Duluth are a little bit unstable to actually put anything in the air around here," Sarah Mitchell, from Hinckley, said.

While the weather was never quite perfect for balloons to fly over Duluth's hill, fun was focused elsewhere.

A weather balloon was set into the air Sunday afternoon by Duluth Marshall middle school students. It was equipped with a video camera and GPS tracking.

"Those kids will get to see near space," Kern said. "They'll see the curvature of the earth. They'll get to see the blackness of space."

Kern said more than 25,000 people visited Bayfront Festival Park over the weekend.