The Big Country Balloon Fest was unable to perform any scheduled flights as a result of massive rainfall on Friday and Saturday evening. The annual 10K run was rescheduled for Sunday morning.
Rain and winds kept the balloons and their crews grounded for the weekend. Nevertheless, the Balloon Fest 10K was conducted on Sunday morning with over 120 participants in the 10K race and 1K kid’s fun run.
The run, hosted by the Optimist Club Unlimited of Abilene and the Abilene Runners Club, was originally planned for Saturday morning and was rescheduled for Sunday because of the weather.
Patrizia and Richard Rose, race directors of the Balloon Fest 10K/1K, have been helping plan this race for seven years. Patrizia said this is the first time they have ever had to reschedule the race.
“We had to keep the runners safety in mind,” said Patrizia on Sunday morning. “We had rain a couple years ago, but it wasn’t like yesterday.”
Even with the date change of the race, over half of the runners who originally signed up came back to race at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning with the Kids 1K Fun Run beginning at 8:45 a.m.
“Today’s weather is awesome,” said Patrizia. “This is ideal, perfect runners’ weather. It is cool and a little overcast, so the runners don’t have a lot of sun hitting them.”
Along with the run, the 18th annual Balloon Fest was scheduled to carry out five major flights, two balloon glows in the evenings and balloon tether rides. The festival was also to play host to numerous vendors and musical entertainment groups, with all of the proceeds going toward programs for children the Optimist club supports.
With a total of 18 balloon pilots from five states, the Balloon Fest was to be conducted at Red Bud Park and multiple vendors were scheduled to set up booths.
Robin Hicks, Balloon Fest coordinator, said the festival ended up being a “complete wash out.”
“This is actually the very first year that we’ve never been able to get off a single flight,” said Hicks. “Two years ago it rained us out pretty good, but we were still able to do flights and glows on Saturday night and Sunday morning. But this year, nothing. The rain has kind of moved out, but the winds were pretty bad this morning. You just can’t fly safely.”
Hicks said it is very hard to reschedule an event this big that brings people in from many different places and requires a great amount of organization. However, she said a motorcycle run might be rescheduled so they can help raise the money that was unable to be raised this weekend as a result of the rain.
Hicks said the support of the community has always been impressive.
“Abilene is so very gracious with the sponsors and the sponsors support us year after year after year,” Hicks said. “And without those sponsors there is absolutely no way we could do this.”
The annual Big Country Balloon Fest will occur again next year during the last week of September.
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