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The Suburbanite
  • Balloon Classic flies high despite inclement weather

  • The hills surrounding the balloon launch stage on the grounds of the Kent State Stark campus make for an arena without a bad seat in the house. Even the parking lots of shopping centers and the driveways of surrounding homes offer some really good places to watch the annual Balloon Classic on the campus of Kent State University Stark.

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  • The hills surrounding the balloon launch stage on the grounds of the Kent State Stark campus make for an arena without a bad seat in the house. Even the parking lots of shopping centers and the driveways of surrounding homes offer some really good places to watch the annual Balloon Classic on the campus of Kent State University Stark.
    Bill Orkoskey drove up from Wheeling, W.Va. to find the best seat in the area to watch the balloons lift. He found one right next to the launch field. Early Friday evening he was sitting on the hillside, waiting for the balloons to take off.
    “This is my first time here. I’m a photographer and I’m hoping to get some really good photos,” Orkeskey said.
    While the weather this year was downright bad for balloon flights on Friday evening, the balloons were able to get into the air on Friday morning. The evening flights were grounded this year due to high winds and rain.
    Despite the uninviting weather, there were plenty of other activities and fun to be had including Friday night’s Night Glow.
    Janet Dyar and Shirley Prather, both from Canton, were holding spots across from the launch field for 20 of their friends and family members. The two have attended the food fest and balloon launch since its inception.
    “We are here every year starting on Friday morning and keep coming back until the last launch on Sunday morning,” Dyar said.
    Allie and Drew Egerton from North Carolina are a husband and wife team responsible for the Heartburn balloon. Drew was the pilot and the couple were talking with other crews in the Kent State Conference Center around 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening, waiting to hear if they could lift off.
    “The odds of flying tonight are not that good, there are some high winds and bad weather just south of us,” Drew said.
    “This is our third year to attend this event,” Allie said. “It’s unique because we get to fly in teams with our buddies instead of competing against them.”
    They, along with many of the balloon teams, had plans to leave the area on Sunday morning and make their way to Longview, Tex. for the U.S. National Championship.
    While the weather may have been less than perfect, crowds of people carrying umbrellas and lawn chairs, pushing baby strollers and pulling ice chests made their way onto the campus to find a spot to watch the activities.
    While visitors waited to see the balloons, they tried the many different food offerings and listened to the live music provided at the Jackson-Belden Food Fest. One of this year’s new vendors was the Peace, Love and Little Donuts. They introduced everyone to a new concept in donuts; small and packed full of unusual flavors.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The donut is bigger than a mini and smaller than a full size, we call it just the right size,” said Franny Buell, co-owner of the Peace, Love and Little Donut shop on Locust Street in Canal Fulton.
    Buell and Chris DeFazio just opened the shop in early June. They offer a variety of flavors such as maple bacon, apple pie, strawberry French toast and Smores.
    Another new addition gathering a lot of attention this year was an actual airplane, not a model or replica. It was parked next to the parking lot of the Conference Center. Kim Kovesci, executive director of the MAPS Air Museum in North Canton, brought the plane over from the museum for people to climb up in it and try it on for size.
    “It’s an A7E Navy plane that was carrier based and used around the end of the Vietnam War,” Kovesci said. “We pulled it 3.6 miles down Frank Road to University Drive using a tug around 4 a.m. on Friday morning. It’s the first year we knew would could pull the plane down the road so we decided to bring it by for visitors to see."
    There were also plenty of places to buy Pro Football Hall of Fame souvenirs, including the new 50th anniversary t-shirts. The topper for the two-night event was the fireworks display on Saturday.