For a second night, high winds grounded the stars of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival's Balloon Classic. Event organizers moved on to Plan B — a static display of some of the more than 50 balloons registered for the event — and sky divers still wowed the crowd as they soared through clear skies.

JACKSON TWP.  As the sun set Saturday, balloon crews finally got a chance to show off their colors.

For a second night, high winds grounded the stars of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival's Balloon Classic. Event organizers moved on to Plan B — a static display of some of the more than 50 balloons registered for the event — and sky divers still wowed the crowd as they soared through clear skies.

It was the 30th year for the Balloon Classic, which is held on the campus of Kent State University at Stark and in conjunction with the Jackson-Belden Music Fest.

The event kicked off early Friday with a morning flight. But high winds kept balloons, and skydivers, grounded Friday night and Saturday morning. The weekend event ended with fireworks Saturday night.

Balloons don't have brakes or landing gear like other aircraft, so high winds can be dangerous, explained balloonmeister Maury Sullivan, the event director.

Sullivan compared it to driving a car at 60 MPH. If you just took your foot off the gas, you wouldn't coast quickly to a stop, he said.

"That's dangerous and where people get hurt," Sullivan said.

Several weather experts, including a meteorologist, monitor conditions at the Classic and have final say on liftoff, he said.

Those experts don't just look at conditions on the ground, but also hundreds of feet in the air. This weekend, the region was stuck between two weather systems, which created a funnel effect and caused high winds and gusts, Sullivan said.

Earlier in the evening, organizers hoped that conditions might turn around and make a launch possible.

"We all want to fly. We come to these things to fly. We want to see the smile on people's faces," said Bill Smith, a Stark County Commissioner and the event announcer. Smith also is a balloon pilot, though his son has taken over flying duties. 

Crews work hard to get ready for the event, so it's disappointing when flying isn't possible, Smith said. "But, that's ballooning."

Even without a launch, the crowds Saturday had plenty to do. A beer tent and food vendors drew long lines, as families set up chairs and blankets to enjoy the sun and listen to local bands.

For some, the event is a family tradition. Diane Richmond of Louisville and her family have been coming to the Balloon Classic since its start.

"We're in the same spot every year," said Chris Stamey of Canton, Richmond's son-in-law, sitting in that designated spot — a patch of level grass between the music fest and the balloons.

Even without balloons, the family planned to enjoy themselves and stay for the fireworks.

"My kids were here when they were little. Now, we're here with their kids," Richmond said, holding her 7-month-old granddaughter Emerson Stamey. "We try to keep (the tradition) going."

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