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The Suburbanite
  • Balloons, Food Fest usher in HOF activities

  • The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival gets an early kickoff as the Balloon Classic and Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks take place this weekend — a whole week before the rest of the HOF festivities begin. This is the second year that the Jackson event has been held two weeks prior to the enshrinement.

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  • The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival gets an early kickoff as the Balloon Classic and Jackson-Belden Food Fest & Fireworks take place this weekend — a whole week before the rest of the HOF festivities begin. This is the second year that the Jackson event has been held two weeks prior to the enshrinement.
    Nearly 60 colorful balloons will float into the air, including specially shaped balloons. This year’s event will feature the Scarecrow, Rocket Man and The Pig.
    Balloons will lift off, weather permitting, at 6:30 p.m. Friday; 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
    The ever-popular night glow event, in which pilots illuminate their balloons while remaining stationary on the ground, is set for 9:30 p.m. Friday.
    Spectators can view the balloons while feasting on a variety of foods offered by 24 on-site vendors cooking up traditional fair foods, such as gyros, Italian sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes and French fries. New to this year’s festival will be kettle corn, Dippin’ Dots and Canal Fulton’s Peace, Love & Little Donuts.
    Fest-goers can get in on the action and cast their votes during the new Wing Challenge event, in which 10 wing vendors will compete for titles such as People’s Choice, Best Taste and Hottest Wings.
    The event also is a feast for the ears, with musical acts scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The band One will deliver its tribute to U2 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, and New Wave Nation will entertain from 8 to 11:30 p.m. Friday. Saturday’s entertainment includes Bandog from 5 to 6 and 6:30 to 7 p.m.; On Trac from 7 to 8:45 p.m.; and the Eric Clapton tribute Evolution will perform from 9 to 10 and 10:30 to 11:30 p.m.
    In addition to the balloons and food, children can find fun at a playground of inflatables and a balloon education area.
    Fireworks will explode overhead from 10 to about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, weather permitting.